Bush Administration Lifts Ban on Selling PCB-Tainted Land

In yet another behind-the-scenes weakening of environmental rules, the Bush administration last month quietly ended a ban on the sale of land contaminated with PCBs. The 25-year-old ban was designed to prevent polluted sites from being redeveloped in ways that might expose the public to PCBs, which are believed to be carcinogens. The U.S. EPA made the change by issuing an internal memo that reinterpreted an existing law; the agency made no public announcement and did not solicit public comment. Some EPA staffers worry that the shift will make it difficult to track the sale of polluted sites and ensure that buyers don’t spread PCB contamination by developing land before it is cleaned up. (For more insider info on Bush’s environmental rollbacks, be sure to check out Grist’s new Muckraker column — debuting tomorrow.)