Monday, August 10, 2009

Buick City Beautification

Will taxpayers pay to clean up Buick City?

Ron Fonger of The Flint Journal reports:
Taxpayers already paid for most of the "new" General Motors, and there's increasing pressure on the government to dig a little deeper to do something more: Guarantee to cover the cost of future environmental cleanups at old plant sites like Buick City.

The Genesee Regional Chamber of Commerce has scheduled an Aug. 26 meeting on the subject here, saying it wants to start a national discussion about how a government promise to take over long-term environmental liability could make the difference between investors buying abandoned properties left with "old" GM or leaving them to sit as they are.

Of course, there is another option:

Russ Harding, a senior environmental policy analyst for the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, said GM should have been required to re-assume its environmental responsibility for the sites it is leaving behind if it ever regains profitability.

"It's fundamentally unfair for taxpayers to be stuck with that bill," said Harding, a former director of the state Department of Environmental Quality. "I look at this as a lose-lose situation."


  1. Land in many parts of the Midwest fundamentally isn't all that valuable. There's plenty more nearby.

    That's probably true even if you need a combination of rail and expressway proximity and access.

    Given the circumstances, the most straightforward way to handle Buick City's brownfield status would be to remove all of the remaining masonry and other manmade leftovers, plant the acreage with mixed trees and groundcover, legally define it as a public brownfield greenspace, and move on to the next problem.

    That of course might mean that the intermodal facility would end up in some other governmental jurisdiction than Flint. Certainly it's understood that Flint has a strategic viability problem, but I don't see that as sufficient to justify the taxpayers paying for this kind of cleanup merely so that jobs go to Flint instead of Durand or Grand Blanc or Clio.

  2. This might also be relevant:

    "EPA Plans Fewer Toxic Cleanups"

    The headline is slightly misleading, but the substance is pretty much as it seems, i.e. less available money = fewer projects.


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