State Working Groups: Followup From Philadelphia ConferencePosted: July 31, 2011 | Author: kdaehnke | Filed under: Uncategorized | Leave a comment »
(Anyone reading this blog should first take the time to read my four previous blog posts, as they set the stage for these ongoing discussions.)
I know it’s been a while since my last post, but believe me, that doesn’t mean things have slowed down around here. In fact, just the opposite is true. First, let me say that the annual Brownfields conference in Philadelphia was a huge success. EPA and ICMA must be commended, as this 2011 conference was certainly one of the best. It was both educational and fun. The sessions were timely and the presenters were very interesting. And, Philadelphia is an excellent host city, with many delightful attractions.
Next, I am pleased to report great success from our session on using the ground lease liability relief model to encourage solar and other renewable energy projects on landfills and other contaminated sites. Even though our roundtable panel was in the final time slot on the last day of the conference, the session was very well attended, with almost one hundred participants.
As noted in my pre-conference blog posts, we were able to boast a star-studded panel, including David Lloyd, Ken Patterson and Charlie Bartsch, all from the highest levels at U.S. EPA headquarters. The panel was very complimentary of our efforts to date, with certain EPA panelists even stating that the ground lease liability bifurcation model is “brilliant”.
The panel’s conclusions were somewhat sobering, however, with the recognition that significant changes to many state laws will be necessary, and that a federal EPA ”ground lease liability relief” initiative is probably not likely, at least not in the near future. The main focus of the panel discussion was how best to encourage the ground lease liability relief model, utilizing existing federal EPA policies and programs, and by encouraging state programs.
The panel also discussed EPA’s most recent Fact Sheet, entitled “Siting Renewable Energy on Contaminated Properties: Addressing Liability Concerns,” which came out just in time for the Philadelphia conference. As we noted in a previous blog post, this Fact Sheet is very well written and incredibly informative. It will definitely be an invaluable resource for those looking for potential relief from CERCLA liability for the siting of renewable energy projects on contaminated sites.
It is true that the Liability Fact Sheet is a great compilation of references to existing federal EPA policies. However, a reasoned analysis of the Fact Sheet yields the inescapable conclusion that most landfills and other contaminated sites remain too risky for renewable energy proponents, unless and until some changes are made, at the state and/or federal level. In the next couple of blog posts we will explore the EPA Liability Fact Sheet in depth, and will discuss where existing federal policy falls short from the standpoint of encouraging renewable energy projects on contaminated sites. Stay tuned for this upcoming analysis. I think you’ll find it very interesting.
Finally, we have been having great success with our State Working Groups. I’ll be sure to keep you apprised of our progress.
(Please note that this is not a public blog site, so I do not publish many of the comments I receive. If you make a comment and want to keep it private, just let me know and I will be sure to respect your wishes.)