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Council on Environmental Quality


To help communities reconnect with their land and water, preserve green space for future generations, and provide attractive settings for economic development, the Clinton-Gore Administration is proposing a new financing tool called Better America Bonds. The FY 2001 Budget proposes $10.75 billion in bond authority over five years ($2.15 billion per year) for investments by state, local and tribal governments. This represents an increase of more than $1 billion over last year's proposal.

While each community must chart its own destiny, the federal government can be an important partner in building healthy, livable communities for the 21st century. To provide communities with additional resources to achieve more livable communities, the Clinton-Gore Administration's proposed budget will include a total of approximately $700 million over five years for Better America Bonds. This funding will support federal tax credits enabling state, local and tribal governments to issue $10.75 billion in bond authority over 5 years. Communities will have access to zero interest financing because investors who buy these fifteen-year bonds will receive tax credits in lieu of interest.

Better America Bonds can be used to preserve open space, protect water quality, and clean up brownfields.

  • Preserve and Enhance Green Space. State, local and tribal governments, working alone or in partnership with land trusts and other nonprofit organizations, can create or restore urban parks, preserve suburban green spaces, and protect threatened farmland and wetlands. Land can be protected either by acquiring title or purchasing permanent easements. Proceeds can also be used for reforestation, and other types of environmental restoration or enhancement.
  • Protect Water Quality. Rivers, lakes, coastal waters, wetlands and drinking water sources can be restored or protected through measures to reduce polluted runoff. Eligible projects include land acquisition, wetlands restoration, or the creation of planted or forested buffer strips along waterways that filter contaminants from runoff.
  • Clean Up Brownfields. Pressure to develop green space can be eased by cleaning up brownfields -- abandoned industrial sites -- for new economic uses. Better America Bonds will supplement the Administration's existing brownfields initiatives by providing substantial new resources to assess and clean up brownfields for use as open spaces or for new uses under limited circumstances, or to authorize the purchase and remediation of lands contaminated as a result of anthracite coal mining.

State, local and tribal governments will submit proposals to the Environmental Protection Agency for initial review in consultation with several other agencies with programs and expertise in the competing communities. Preference will be given to regional proposals that reflect collaborative planning by neighboring communities, particularly partnerships among cities, suburbs and rural areas. Legislation has been introduced in both the House and Senate to establish Better America Bonds. More information is available at www.epa.gov/bonds.

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