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Superfund Site Reuse Announcement Front Royal, VA

Carol M. Browner, Administrator
 Environmental Protection Agency
                 Remarks Prepared for Delivery
               Superfund Site Reuse Announcement
                        Front Royal, VA
                         July 23, 1999

     Good afternoon. It's great to be back in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley.
     I want to thank Tony for that introduction and thank everyone for coming here today. It's always good to see my friends Senator Warner and Senator Robb. For years they've both been good friends of the environment.
     I also want to thank Dan Flynn of the U.S. Soccer Foundation -- who you will hear from shortly -- for his support and for bringing out all these great kids for today's announcement. It's important to remember that protecting and preserving the environment is really an investment in our children and all the generations that follow.
     And that's what makes today's announcement exciting because what we're looking at here is truly a renaissance -- a rebirth -- in our thinking about how we deal with formerly contaminated Superfund sites like this one.
     Think about it.
     This land -- once a health hazard to the community -- will now be home to soccer fields where our kids will come to play a great sport, and get healthy and stay healthy.
     This land -- once idle and unproductive -- will also soon be home to a hotel and conference center that will generate jobs and tax revenue for the Front Royal community and northern Virginia.
     And this land that was once an eyesore that people avoided will now be home to shared greenspace where neighbors can gather and form those ties that bind a community together.
     I want to thank Robert Burt of FMC and everyone here today who helped make this success possible.
     Now we want to take this kind of Superfund site reuse and create a redevelopment renaissance nationwide.
     So today I am pleased to announce 10 grants of up to $100,000 each for similar programs around the nation -- one for each EPA region.
     And next year another 40 of these grants will be made available on a competitive basis to even more communities.
     We know this kind of program can work. Already more than 100 cleaned up Superfund sites have been redeveloped and are now used as everything from golf courses and nature preserves to shopping centers and offices -- supporting 11,000 jobs and generating more than $225 million in revenues.
     What this new grant program will do is encourage communities to develop their reuse plans early in the clean up process, making it easier to tailor the restoration to the proposed redevelopment.
     And this program could be strengthened further by the Better America Bonds program proposed by President Clinton and Vice President Gore -- a simple way to do a great amount of good in protecting, preserving and restoring our valuable lands.
     With just a quick addition to the tax code, Better America Bonds will enable state and local governments to issue nearly $10 billion in bonds over five years to preserve open space, protect water quality or clean up brownfields. And they will never pay a dime in interest and can wait 15 years before paying back the principal. Investors who buy the bonds receive tax credits equal to the interest they would have received on the bonds -- a total of $700 million.
     For instance, with Better America Bonds, Front Royal would have an inexpensive way to finance the purchase of some of the land adjoining this site and turn it into greenways or a river walk.
     Now let me tell you what Better America Bonds is not. It is not a big government program. The federal government will not buy one square inch of land and we won't micromanage local decisions. All purchasing and land use decisions will be made at the state or local level. We're not sticking our nose where it doesn't belong, we're just lending a hand where it's needed.
     The new millennium is just 161 days away. And we want to make sure that communities like Front Royal -- with centuries of history already behind them -- have the tools they need to remain vibrant in the century to come.
     Thank you.