State Response Programs
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State cleanup programs play a significant role in assessing and cleaning up brownfield sites. State cleanup programs typically are programs authorized by state statutes to address brownfields and other lower-risk sites that are not of federal interest.
The EPA has historically supported the use of state cleanup programs and continues to provide grant funding to establish and enhance the programs. The EPA also provides general enforcement assurances to individual states to encourage the voluntary assessment and cleanup of sites addressed under state oversight. This approach was codified in 2002 as Section 182 of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA):
- CERCLA § 128(a) addresses grant funding and memoranda of agreement (MOAs) for state response programs;
- CERCLA § 128(b) addresses the “enforcement bar,” which limits EPA enforcement actions under CERCLA §§ 106(a) and 107(a) at “eligible response sites” addressed in compliance with state response programs that specifically govern cleanups to protect human health and the environment; and
- CERCLA § 128(b)(1)(C) addresses the establishment and maintenance of a public record by a state to document the cleanup and potential use restrictions of sites addressed by a state response program.
Beginning in the mid-1990s, EPA increased its partnerships with states to address state cleanup of brownfields and to strengthen and build state program capacity. As part of that effort, EPA entered into memoranda of agreement (MOAs) with individual states to encourage the voluntary cleanup of brownfields under state oversight.
Memoranda of agreements can be valuable mechanisms to support and strengthen efforts to achieve protective cleanups under state oversight. The purpose of the MOAs is to foster more effective and efficient working relationships between an EPA region and an individual state regarding the use of its state response program. Memoranda of agreement are non-binding documents that promote coordination and clarify the general roles and responsibilities and provide the EPA’s recognition of the state’s capabilities. Memoranda of agreement typically include a general statement of the EPA’s enforcement intentions regarding certain sites cleaned up under the oversight of a state response program.
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