Published May 1, 2004 | May 2004 issue
The state Legislature passed two laws to encourage development on land that has been contaminated.
Known as the brownfields laws, they would set up a loan system for projects on polluted land and limit legal liability for lenders to those projects. Their goal is to be friendlier to property owners and lenders, so as not to discourage them from rehabilitating contaminated properties.
The loan fund would finance environmental analysis and help pay for decontamination, and provide access to federal brownfields funds. The liability law corrects what some say is a problem with existing superfund laws.
Those superfund laws allow lenders to be sued for environmental cleanup, even if they did not directly cause the contamination but end up owning the property as collateral. Critics of these laws say the liability creates a disincentive to provide loans to reuse polluted land.