Environmental Practice

Features & Reviews

Commentary: Delisting and Redeveloping Brownfields in Texas: A Question of Effectiveness

Stephanie Garciaa1 c1 and Craig E. Coltena2

a1 Department of Geography, Southwest Texas State University, San Marcos

a2 Department of Geography and Anthropology, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge


In spring 1995, the US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) announced plans to “delist” over 24,000 sites from its inventory of potential Superfund sites known as CERCLIS (Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Information System). The Clinton Administration hoped that by taking sites that had a very low probability of harboring severe contamination off the federal inventory, they could lift the cloud of environmental uncertainty; and with a gentle federal boost, laissez-faire development would improve conditions in the neediest neighborhoods. Through a review of the delisted sites available via Land View III, local records on brownfield properties, interviews with brownfields coordinators, and Texas Voluntary Cleanup Program (VCP) inventories, we tabulated the number of delisted sites that were included in the two redevelopment efforts in Texas—the federal brownfields program and state VCP. The most obvious element of this tabulation is the small correspondence between delisted sites and brownfield or VCP efforts. While there is legitimate reason to claim success for the brownfield and voluntary cleanup programs for stimulating redevelopment, they have had little impact on the delisted sites. A national assessment of the process might point to states where there is greater congruence and identify the steps necessary to create greater overlap nationwide.

(Received January 18 2001)

(Revised January 26 2001)

(Accepted January 30 2001)


c1 Department of Geography, Southwest Texas State University, 601 University Drive, San Marcos, TX 78666; (e-mail) SG34157@swt.edu.