Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (1980) was a United States Law that levied a tax on petroleum and chemical producers. This tax allowed for cleanup at contaminated sites across the United States where a responsible party could not be found or was unable to pay. Over $8.5 billion was in a trust fund (a.k.a. Superfund) in 1986. However, yielding to corporate pressure, Congress allowed the Act to expire in 2005 and this trust fund now stands at $0. These sites are some of the over 1,150 registered on the National Priorities List (N.P.L.), designated sites found by the EPA to meet the criteria for access to the Superfund. Cleanup costs are now appropriated from a general fund at sites where a responsible party is not found or unable to pay.
Brett Van Ort was born in Washington D.C. and raised and schooled in Texas. He moved to Los Angeles, California after obtaining an undergraduate degree in film from T.C.U. In Los Angeles, he worked as a camera assistant and camera operator for several years on various films, television shows and documentaries, most notably Errol Morris’ Oscar winning The Fog of War. Van Ort moved to London in 2008 and received his M.A. in Photojournalism and Documentary Photography at the London College of Communication shortly thereafter.
Van Ort’s work has been exhibited internationally, including Photoespana, LOOK11, Liverpool’s International Photography Exhibition and FORMAT in Derby, UK. He has been published in numerous magazines and webzines including Photo District News (PDN), American Photography 26, The British Journal of Photography (BJP), The New York Times Online, Vice, and BLDGBLOG, to name a few.
Spending his summers on the farm where his mother grew up instilled a great respect for nature in him from a young age. Brett has always been interested in land, the outdoors and how we as humans use the environment to our benefit and detriment. Many of his personal projects focus on the landscape, interaction with our environment, and what is concealed by nature.
His first monograph Minescape, was released as a printed book by Daylight Books in 2013. TED books and Daylight Digital converted Minescape into a digital, ebook version, days after the printed versions release.
Brett moved back to Los Angeles in 2012 to continue projects about toxic soil in America and the destruction of the Southern California high desert by the housing crisis.