“(B) to invest in the infrastructure and industry of the United States to sustainably meet the challenges of the 21st century;”
Government investments are not the answer to all of society’s problems, especially existing environmental problems. To properly address issues of 21st-century sustainability and resilience, we need leadership. There are tens of thousands of toxic waste dumps throughout the United States that have been abandoned by government agencies and ignored by local and national environmental organizations.1 There is not enough public money or leadership to begin to clean up this mess–from the Super Fund or any other public source.
Using incentives and disincentives, we can unleash the power of the American entrepreneur. By partnering with local and regional environmental organizations and government agencies, we can transform dumps into clean, productive, and taxable land uses. This will create many highly skilled and highly paid jobs, bring these properties back onto the tax rolls, and significantly reduce air, water, and soil pollutants.
1. Multiple U.S. agencies—the Department of Agriculture, the Department of the Interior and Interior’s Bureau of Land Management—have inventories of tens of thousands of contaminated and potentially contaminated sites, and they all agree that they do not even begin to have a complete inventory of such sites. “The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Department of the Interior (Interior) have identified many contaminated and potentially contaminated sites, but neither agency has a complete inventory. As of April 2014, USDA had identified 1,491 contaminated sites and many potentially contaminated sites, including landfills and shooting ranges. However, USDA does not have a reliable, centralized site inventory or plans and procedures for completing one, in particular, for abandoned mines. Without a reliable inventory or plans and procedures for developing one, USDA cannot effectively manage its cleanup programs. As of April 2014, Interior had an inventory of 4,722 sites with confirmed or likely contamination. In addition, Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) had identified over 30,000 abandoned mines that were not yet assessed for contamination, and this inventory is not complete. BLM is working to improve the completeness and accuracy of its inventory.” (“Hazardous Waste: Agencies Should Take Steps to Improve Information on USDA’s and Interior’s Potentially Contaminated Sites,” Government Accounting Office, 1/16/15)