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A Primer for Petroleum Brownfields

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In September 2001, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency launched its USTfields pilot initiative to address abondoned or idle property where redevelopedment is hindered by petroleum contamination from abandoned, federally regulated underground storage tanks" or "USTs". As the 50 pilots have seen, sites polluted with petroleum - such as abondoned gas stations, auto body shops, industrial facilities, and other petroleum brownfields - must overcome significant barriers to reuse, notably, fear of liability, lengthy regulatory proceduresd, and up-front cleanup expenses. As many as 200,000 abandoned gas stations and other petroleum brownfields blight communities across America. 

The opportunities for petroleum brownfields revitalization were highlighted by the Northeast-Midwest Institute (NE-MW) and the National Association of Local Government Environmental Professionals (NALGEP) in a 2002 report, Recycling America's Gas Stations. NE-MW and NALGEP have also worked with U.S. EPA to identify petroleum brownfields success stories and strategies as we have coordinated the network of 50 USTfield pilot communities. 

Although the new national brownfields statute marks the end of USTfields as a "pilot" effort, it formalizes these petroleum sites - and these opportunities - as a recognized component of EPA's brownfield revitalization program. Accordingly, the goal of this primer is to help existing USTfield pilot communities, and others exploring petroleum brownfield site reuse, to better understand the opportunities that these sites bring.