As one of the most important current topics in environmental law, the redevelopment of abandoned or underutilized urban properties, better known as brownfields, continues to generate much discussion and debate. Because most agree that abandoned sites located in aging areas and the accompanying exodus of industry to the suburbs are undesirable, the federal government and many state governments have created programs to encourage the redevelopment of these industrial properties. But often overlooked by the advocates of such programs are the difficult political, scientific, and moral questions associated with redevelopment. In this insightful article, Professor Eisen provides the most comprehensive discussion to date of brownfield programs that often exchange increased health risks to the surrounding community for additional jobs and higher tax revenue. He then draws an analogy between brownfield redevelopment programs and negotiated compensation statutes, which were created to facilitate the siting of hazardous and solid waste disposal facilities but have experienced only limited success. Finally, after exposing the shortcomings of the current brownfield programs through this analogy, Professor Eisen concludes that adequate community input and a revision of CERCLA are but two of the many changes that must be made in order to increase the public legitimacy of brownfield redevelopment programs.
Joel B. Eisen, "Brownfields of Dreams?" : Challenges and Limits of Voluntary Cleanup Programs and Incentives, 1996 U. Ill. L. Rev. 883.