51 RI Bar J., No. 6, Pg. 1 (May, 2003). Brownfields Law Takes Center Stage.


Rhode Island Bar Journal

Volume 51.

51 RI Bar J., No. 6, Pg. 1 (May, 2003).

Brownfields Law Takes Center Stage

Brownfields Law Takes Center StageADRIENNE G. SOUTHGATE, ESQ. AND SUSAN B. KAPLAN, ESQ.Adrienne G. Southgate is President of Brownfields Solutions, LLC.Susan B. Kaplan is Brownfields Consultant, Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation.Question: What environmental law enjoys broad bi-partisan support, and has a Rhode Island connection to boot?Answer: Brownfields - specifically, the Small Business Liability Relief and Brownfields Revitalization Act - authored by our own Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R-R.I.), passed 99-0 in the U.S. Senate, and signed into law by President. Bush in January 2002.Until passage of the legislation, Brownfields was part of the Superfund program. With this new law, Brownfields comes into its own as a successful and legitimately stand-alone program. The law's liability relief for contiguous property owners and prospective buyers of contaminated sites and its provisions for funding to clean up blighted properties and restore them to productive use deliver benefits that everyone values, including a cleaner environment, reduction of health threats, and economic development assets like job creation and an increased tax base.

The law is composed of two titles. Title I, the Small Business Liability Protection Act, provides liability relief from Sec. 107, the Cost Recovery Liability Provisions of Superfund (technically known as CERCLA, the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act), to individuals and small businesses for two categories of waste:

* DeMicromis amounts. The law exempts generators or transporters of less than 110 gallons of liquid materials or less than 200 pounds of solid materials, if disposal or transport took place prior to April 1, 2001. (The exemption does not apply to certain situations, including hazardous substances that contributed significantly to response or restoration costs.)* Municipal solid waste. The exemption applies to municipal solid waste from residential properties, business entities with fewer than 100 employees, and 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations with fewer than 100 employees. (Again, some exceptions apply.)Also, the law makes some provisions for expedited settlements, including a reduction in the amount of settlement based on limited ability...

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