Many states have adopted voluntary action programs to encourage developers to clean up and redevelop brownfields, former industrial or commercial facilities that have some environmental contamination. While brownfields redevelopment often has important benefits, states often allow cleanups that are less stringent than would otherwise be required and that raises the possibility that redevelopment could pose health risks to neighboring residents. Because many brownfield sites are located in areas with significant minority populastions, there is the potential for disproportionate impacts against these groups. If disparate impacts occur, states are arguably liable under Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The Article proposes several procedures to reduce the likelihood of disparate impacts. First, states should require developers to collect data about the racial demographics and relative burden of pollution in areas surrounding the proposed brownfield site. Additionally, states should require developers to mitigate any impacts and consider alternative sites that pose less risk or discriminatory potential. Even if some disparate impacts against minorities were likely, developers could attempt to justify their projects. Finally, states should encourage early and meaningful public participation in the approval of brownfield proposals.
Mank, Bradford, "Reforming State Brownfield Programs to Comply with Title VI" (2000). Faculty Articles and Other Publications. Paper 117.