Mortgage lenders are optimistic President-elect Bill Clinton and his newly named environmental chief will lead the way to a solution to the continuing controversy over their liability for pollution cleanup of foreclosed assets.

"I think the outlook for a solution is very good," said Alfred Pollard, director of government relations for the Savings and Community Bankers of America. "Clinton is very familiar with this type of issue and Carol Browner has a reputation for finding a middle ground between environmentalists and business," added Pollard, who also heads a coalition of lenders that has worked for both regulatory and legislative fixes to the problem. Browner, who is Florida's environmental secretary, has been named by Clinton to be the next administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.

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