The United States Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Brownfields Program has grown into a proven, results-oriented program that has changed the way contaminated (and potentially contaminated) property is perceived, addressed, and managed. This program is designed to empower states, communities, and other stakeholders in economic redevelopment to work together in a timely manner to prevent, assess, safely clean up, and reuse brownfields. Cleaning up and reinvesting in these properties increases local tax bases, facilitates job growth, utilizes existing infrastructure, takes development pressures off of undeveloped, open land, and improves and protects the environment.
EPA provides small amounts of seed money to local governments that launched hundreds of (2) year brownfield "pilot" projects. Through passage of the Small Business Liability Relief and Brownfields Revitalization Act, effective polices that EPA had developed over the years were passed into law. The Brownfields Law expanded EPA's assistance by providing new tools for the public and private sectors to promote sustainable brownfields cleanup and reuse. The EPA has extended the Brownfields Tax Incentive and includes:
- Allowing environmental cleanup costs at eligible properties to be fully deductible in the year incurred, rather than capitalized and spread over a period of years
- Improvements in 2006 expanded the types of properties eligible for the incentive to include those with petroleum contamination
- Previously filed tax returns can be amended to include deductions for past cleanup expenditures.
The tax incentive is explained A Guide to Federal Tax Incentives for Brownfields Redevelopment.
The Kansas Brownfields Program is funded through an EPA grant. Through the program, KDHE can provide Brownfields Targeted Assessments (BTAs) for eligible projects that satisfy a community need or help create jobs. BTAs provide a Phase I environmental assessment “at no cost” to the project or community in order to identify potential environmental concerns. A Phase II environmental assessment, which samples soil and groundwater, may also be conducted if warranted. A BTA can also evaluate asbestos, mold, or lead-based paint issues. This information is vital for planning for remodeling or demolition/construction activities.
BTAs promote redevelopment identifying the presence or absence of contamination, fulfill due environmental diligence requirements, reduce landowner liability, and can use leverage funding through both public and private sources. Once a property has been evaluated, KDHE can direct the landowner if necessary into an appropriate cleanup program.
The Kansas Brownfields Program targets projects that have community benefit and support in terms of job creation, economic impact, green initiatives, or community need, such as libraries, community buildings, fire stations, main street storefronts, and commercial real estate, all of which are key elements to rural community development and/or small start–up businesses.