Great Lakes Environmental Directory Great Lakes Great Lakes environment Great Lakes grants exotic species water pollution water export drilling environment Great Lakes pollution Superior Michigan Huron Erie Ontario ecology Great Lakes issues wetlands Great Lakes wetlands Great Lakes Great Lakes environment Great Lakes watershed water quality exotic species Great Lakes grants water pollution water export oil gas drilling environment environmental Great Lakes pollution Lake Superior Lake Michigan Lake Huron Lake Erie Lake Ontario Great Lakes ecology Great Lakes issues Great Lakes wetlands Great Lakes Resources Great Lakes activist Great Lakes environmental organizations Great Lakes Aquatic Habitat air pollution alien species threatened rare endangered species ecological Great Lakes information Success Stories Great Lakes Directory Home/News Great Lakes Calendar Great Lakes jobs/volunteering Search Great Lakes Organizations Take Action! Contact Us Resources/Links Great Lakes Issues Great Lakes News Article About Us Networking Services

Great Lakes Article:

Shortchanging Superfund

New York Times

Report last week that the Bush administration plans to cut cleanup funds at 33 of the country's biggest toxic waste sites drew predictable howls from Democrats that the White House was again sabotaging the environment. It also drew strong denials from the Environmental Protection Agency, which said that no project would go unfunded. Meanwhile, an underlying truth went largely unnoticed: Superfund is in a precarious state, increasingly beholden to the budgetary whims of Congress and the administration. Indeed, much of the fault lies with Congress.

The purpose of Superfund, enacted in 1980, was to clean up the thousands of toxic waste sites abandoned over the years by industry. The core principle was that the polluter should pay. Indeed, private industry has paid for two-thirds of the 800-plus sites cleaned up so far, and will end up paying for a similar percentage of the roughly 1,200 sites remaining on the E.P.A.'s national priority list.

The problem has been the other one-third, sites where ownership changed hands and the polluter could not easily be identified. For these sites Congress established an "orphan fund," to be underwritten by industrywide taxes, mainly on oil and chemical companies. While Superfund as a whole has had its problems, the orphan fund has caused the most headaches. And industry has always resented paying the special taxes.

In an effort to build long-term support for Superfund, the Clinton administration devised a fundamental overhaul of the program in 1994 that won surprising support among both industrialists and environmentalists. But Congress failed to act, and, worse, allowed the corporate taxes that sustained the orphan fund to expire. Without these taxes, the fund has dwindled from a high of $3.8 billion in 1996 to a projected $28 million by September of next year. The fund is thus increasingly dependent on the willingness of a budget-conscious Congress to appropriate general tax revenues (which it has, so far) and the willingness of the administration to spend that money.

President Bush doesn't want to restore the taxes. Many Democrats do. They argue that the tax would guarantee a reliable funding stream and that using general revenues for the orphan fund undercuts the basic "polluter pays" principle. Regrettably, their leaders have not pressed the matter. This is one of those issues that may not make headway until the public realizes that the toxic mess down the road isn't being attended to.

This information is posted for nonprofit educational purposes, in accordance with U.S. Code Title 17, Chapter 1,Sec. 107 copyright laws.
For more information go to: If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for
purposes of your own that go beyond "fair use," you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Great Lakes environmental information

Return to Great Lakes Directory Home/ Site Map