Elliott P. Laws Named Winner of Charlie Bartsch Lifetime Achievement Award at National Brownfields Training Conference

DETROIT — RACER Trust today announced that Elliott P. Laws, who has led RACER as administrative trustee since its effective date in 2011, was named winner of the Charlie Bartsch Lifetime Achievement Award for brownfields professionals by the Phoenix Award Committee and the International City/County Management Association.

Mr. Laws was honored as part of the Phoenix Awards ceremony Wednesday at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s National Brownfields Training Conference at Huntington Place in Detroit.

Photo of Elliott P Laws

Elliott P. Laws with the Charlie Bartsch Lifetime Achievement Award. Photo courtesy of ICMA.
 

The Revitalizing Auto Communities Environmental Response (RACER) Trust was created in March 2011 by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court to clean up and position for redevelopment the properties abandoned by General Motors Corp. in its 2009 bankruptcy. Under Mr. Laws’ leadership, RACER has completed more than 90 property sales and achieved a no further action status or similar regulatory closure for more than 50 components of cleanups. Investments by RACER’s buyers and end users have generated annual, recurring impacts of more than 59,600 permanent full-time equivalent jobs, $4.5 billion in labor income and $16.4 billion in regional economic output.

Mr. Laws, who also is a partner in the law firm Crowell & Moring LLP, served as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Assistant Administrator for the Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response under President Clinton, responsible for regulatory and policy development and implementation for solid and hazardous waste management nationwide. Prior to his role at EPA, Mr. Laws was an attorney at the U.S. Justice Department; president of safety, health and environment for Texaco Inc.; and a Manhattan assistant district attorney.

“Elliott Laws is an exceptional leader who has proved to be the ideal steward for RACER Trust and the communities that suffered as a result of the GM bankruptcy,” said Patricia Overmeyer, Deputy Director of EPA’s Office of Brownfields and Land Revitalization. “His integrity and willingness to embrace challenges, combined with decades of experience in environmental cleanup, extensive knowledge of environmental concerns and personal commitment to environmental justice and the wellbeing of communities, make him a powerful and effective advocate for protective remediation and sustainable redevelopment. He is a deserving choice for the Charlie Bartsch Lifetime Achievement Award.”

The late Mr. Bartsch, who died in 2018, was a leading national advocate for the cleanup and sustainable reuse of brownfield properties, both as an EPA official and advisor and as an author, professor and consultant.

“I am profoundly honored to have been chosen for this award, named for Charlie Bartsch, whose ideas and advocacy led to many of the policies and programs that have made the reuse of underutilized properties a reality in communities across our nation,” Mr. Laws said. “Our focus at RACER from day one has been the aggressive implementation of our dual mission — the remediation of environmental impacts and the sale of our properties to buyers with the experience and capability to maximize their redevelopment potential, both of which create healthier, more vibrant communities. I am proud of our team’s work, and also grateful to the EPA employees who spearheaded the development of the brownfields program over 30 years ago. I recognize this award would not have been possible but for both of these groups’ tireless devotion to the principles of brownfield redevelopment.”

As EPA Assistant Administrator for the Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response, Mr. Laws was instrumental in the expansion of the EPA’s Brownfields Redevelopment Program as well as the creation of the National Brownfields Training Conference, a biennial event that brings together the nation’s top environmental practitioners, economic development organizations and communities large and small for a week of educational programming and networking aimed at addressing conditions at the nation’s estimated 450,000 brownfield properties.

About RACER Trust: The Revitalizing Auto Communities Environmental Response (RACER) Trust was created in March 2011 by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court to clean up and position for redevelopment the properties abandoned by General Motors Corp. in its 2009 bankruptcy. At its effective date, RACER Trust’s real property portfolio consisted of 336 tax parcels; 34 million square feet in 167 buildings; and 6,776 acres of land at 83 locations in 14 states. When it was formed, RACER was one of the largest holders of industrial properties in the United States, and the largest environmental response trust in U.S. history. Since then, RACER has completed more than 90 property sales and achieved a no further action status or similar regulatory closure for more than 50 components of cleanups. Investments by RACER Trust’s buyers and end users have generated annual, recurring impacts of more than 59,600 permanent FTEs, $4.5 billion in labor income and $16.4 billion in regional economic output, creating new opportunities and revenue for RACER’s communities. For more information, please visit racertrust.org.