EPA will have Chicago singing the blues

Posted11/14/2010 8:44 AM

Ever wonder what beat Washington is marching to? It sure isn't the rhythm of the Chicago blues. Instead, when it comes to a rule the Environmental Protection Agency is about to issue on dioxin, Washington has proved once again it is tone deaf.

President Clinton's EPA set today's dioxin clean-up standards more than a decade ago that allowed communities to redevelop brownfieldsa major environmental and economic achievement. Despite the progress and tough rules already on the books, the EPA is determined to set new standards that could have a chilling effect on brownfields redevelopment, local economies, Chicago manufacturers, and job growth while not improving public health.

In Elgin and Downers Grove, there are 56 acres of brownfields that could create 1,500 new jobs and up to $4 million in additional tax revenue if they were redeveloped according to data from the U.S. Conference of Mayors. The proposed standards will surely scare away already nervous developers, financiers, and local governments from ever redeveloping these properties. Don't take my word for it. The EPA acknowledged that even reopening previously remediated sites would have significant costs and require digging up more soil than we have landfill space to bury it in.

Scientists, health experts, businesses have questioned the EPA's theories on dioxin. The National Academy of Sciences has been especially critical. Still, the EPA remains unconvinced.

This is happening during the worst recession in decades and the worst financial crisis this city have encountered in years. There's no need for the EPA to pile on. I don't know who or what the EPA is listening to, but it's about time they change their tune.

Mark Biel

Chemical Industry Council of Illinois

Des Plaines