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Brownfields Clean-up at Bossert Manufacturing Site, Utica, New York

Remarks of Governor Christine Todd Whitman,
Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency,
at the
Bossert Manufacturing Site
Utica, New York

August 2, 2002

Thank you, Sherry (Boehlert), for that introduction.

It = s great to be here in Utica with your outstanding Congressman, Sherry Boehlert.

One of the great pleasures I = ve had since coming to the EPA has been working with Congressman Boehlert. He is one of the most thoughtful, effective advocates for the environment in the Congress and I am grateful for his leadership and his support. He is a true environmental champion B and don = t take my word for it. That = s the title the League of Conservation Voters has awarded him for his strong environmental record.

Further evidence of his leadership is right here where we are standing. This site B which is being transformed from a community eyesore into a neighborhood asset B is another reflection of just how important Sherry is to the environment.

For nearly 100 years, this place was a manufacturing facility B contributing to the strength of Utica = s economy but also contributing some environmental challenges, as well.

Then, when the company went out of business, this site was no longer creating jobs or ratables, it just detracted from the life and vitality of this community.

And while it might not look like much right now, the work that has already been done B and that is planned in the coming months B will ensure that this property can once again become an asset to this community.

This site, and thousands like it across America, are known as brownfields B parcels of land that are thought to be or are polluted and that no one is willing to redevelop.

Over the past ten years, several thousand brownfields have been and are being cleaned up. This brownfield is among them B thanks to the work of your Congressman. Over the years, he has brought more than $5 million in federal funds to help reclaim this site for the people of Utica.

But despite such progress, thousands more brownfields continue to mar America = s landscape.

That = s because, until recently, the law provided a real disincentive for redevelopment of many of America = s brownfields. Fortunately, that changed earlier this year. In January, President Bush signed into law landmark brownfields legislation that removes the disincentives for brownfields redevelopment.

Congressman Boehlert was perhaps the major reason this legislation got out of the House and to the President = s desk. He led the fight over the course of several years that finally resulted in this landmark piece of legislation.

The new law includes such important provisions as liability protection for redevelopers who had nothing to do with any pollution found on the site. It also expands the definition of a brownfield so more sites will be eligible for federal help. Because of this new law, we are now ready to tackle the next generation of brownfields reclamation.

In addition, the President has proposed more than doubling the federal funding available to help communities restore the brownfields in their neighborhoods to productive use.

Restoring brownfields to productive use carries with it enormous benefits to local communities. Experience has shown that every dollar of federal money spent on brownfields leverages about two-and-half dollars in private investment. In addition, restoring brownfields helps reduce suburban sprawl. Every acre of brownfields that is restored saves more than 4.5 acres of greenspace.

Brownfields restoration is a win-win for everyone, from the children who have new places to play when a brownfield is turned into a ballfield, to the parents who have new jobs, when a brownfield becomes the site of a new office building or retail store.

I want to thank Sherry Boehlert for the incredibly valuable contribution he has made to environmental protection in the Congress for the people of this district and for all the people of America. He truly is an environmental champion and I am delighted to be with him here today.

Thank you.