President Bush recently signed a bill to reform the laws governing redevelopment of brownfields.

The Brownfields Reform and Small Business Liability Relief Act is intended to encourage the cleanup and redevelopment of lightly contaminated old industrial properties know as brownfields. The EPA estimates that between 500,000 and 1 million brownfields lie abandoned in communities across America.

The new law reforms one of the major hindrances to brownfields cleanup - the federal Superfund law. The bill provides liability protection for prospective purchasers, contiguous property owners and innocent landowners, and authorizes increased funding for state and local programs that assess and clean up brownfields. The legislation also provides relief from Superfund liability for small business owners who sent waste or trash to waste sites, protecting small businesses while ensuring that polluted sites continue to be cleaned up by those most responsible for the contamination.