My analysis begins in Part I with a short summary of brownfields law and policy, and a description of our current understanding of "sustainable development." There is no hard and fast definition of the term, but it is increasingly more clear that a body of sustainable development "law" will take shape as the product of a host of decisions made now and in the near future. The optimal way to ensure that brownfields programs mesh with this body of law-whatever it turns out to be-is to incorporate basic norms of sustainable development about which there is widespread agreement. Those agreed-upon norms are the fllowing: brownfields programs should simultaneously consider social, economic and environmental issues; they should substantively ensure a sustainable urban future; and last but certainly not least, they should strive for and achieve "equity." In Part II, I elaborate on these core concepts and suggest how they should be interpreted in the brownfields arena. I explain my preference for creating an expanded federal role in overseeing states' brownfields programs, adopting state schemes to ensure the long-run protectiveness of brownfields cleanups, and facilitating broad-based public participation in the brownfields reuse and remediation process. My central premise is that proposals which I and others have made to achieve these ends can be understood (though not explicitly designed as such) as attempts to comport with core principles of sustainable development. As such, I find an independent justification for reforming brownfields programs to incorporate these principles.
Joel B. Eisen, Brownfields Policies For Sustainable Cities, 9 Duke Envtl. L. & Pol'y F. 187 (1999).