New law curtails bogus claims for pollution cleanup tax breaks

June 1, 2013 

A so-called "brownfield" may sound like a dirt plot, but in government speak has been a bonanza in economic redevelopment.

According to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the term "brownfield" refers to a site whose expansion, redevelopment or reuse may be complicated by actual or perceived environmental contamination. These properties are usually located in economically depressed areas.

Florida has been doling out tax breaks for years based on perceived pollution on properties -- perceived, mind you, not confirmed based on solid evidence. Gov. Rick Scott signed a bill into law this week that requires owners of properties on or next to the polluted sites in question provide proof that a cleanup agreement with the government is in place before incentives are granted. Manatee County, Bradenton, Palmetto and other entities provide that tax credit.

The old law had been so vague that actual contamination did not have to be proven. Polluted sites deserve tax breaks for cleanups, but the program shouldn't be abused. This is sound public policy.

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