Green Buckeye RN


CHEJ: Join Superfund 30th Birthday National Action: An Update From Lois Gibbs
November 11, 2010, 10:06 am
Filed under: News

 Next month is Superfund’s 30th Birthday and we hope you will help commemorate it by holding a media event and/or contacting your federal representatives to urge them to give the toxic waste cleanup program a much-needed gift — passage of the polluter pays fees legislation in the House and Senate!

Superfund was signed into law on December 11th, 1980 by President Jimmy Carter.  CHEJ is organizing a national day of action in early December and we want to plan it with your group’s input.  Please contact anne@chej.org if you are interested in joining a conference call to plan the event! 

There has been a lot of activity on the Federal Superfund in the last year.  Here is a brief update on how Obama and EPA are pushing for polluter pays fees legislation, a new federal report on the Superfund crisis, and a new EPA report that $28 million in TAGs has been awarded to groups.

Obama Pushes for Polluter Pays Fees: 

In recent years, Superfund has been hit hard by a lack of fees collected from polluting industries resulting in many more communities threatened by toxic sites as they await their turn on the lengthy cleanup list.  The good news is that President Barak Obama is pushing to renew collecting fees from oil and chemical companies to replenish the financially ailing program and take the unfair burden off taxpayers. For 15 years, the government imposed taxes on companies that went into a trust fund to clean up the worst toxic sites in the country. These taxes expired in 1995 and Congress did not renew them, so the fund ran out of money in 2003. Since then, the federal government has appropriated public dollars every year to pay for the cleanups. But the budget is too small and this has slowed the rate of cleanup. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the program completed clean ups at 19 sites last year, compared with 89 in 1999.  Now the Obama administration is pushing to reinstate the taxes and the EPA, which rarely urges passage of bills, sent a letter to Congress in June calling for legislation.

GAO Documents Delays at Sites with Unacceptable Toxic Exposures: 

Recently, the US General Accountability Office (GAO) found at over 60 percent of 239 Superfund sites with “unacceptable or unknown human exposure,” all or more than half of the cleanup work remains to be done. EPA officials told GAO that, in managing limited resources, some sites have not received sufficient funding. And it will only get worse. EPA officials estimate that costs will be up to $681 million each year for 2010 to 2014, which greatly exceeds the previous annual costs of $220 to $267 million (2000 to 2009). On top of that, EPA regional officials estimated that up to 125 sites-about 20 to 25 sites per year-will be added to Superfund over the next 5 years, which is higher than the past average of 16 sites per year.  Lois Gibbs spoke at a Congressional Hearing on the issue last June and urged Congress to “restore the polluter pays fees so that there is a reliable source of funding to provide the necessary assistance to protect innocent American people.”

Grassroots Campaign Results in $28 Million in TAGs Since 1988:

If the people lead, the leaders will follow is an old organizing truism. Organized community groups have led the campaigns that created Superfund and ATSDR, as well as the creation of the Technical Assistance Grants program for communities struggling to understand scientific test results and cleanup plans.  EPA recently sent CHEJ a summary of the TAG program which showed approximately $28 million has been awarded to groups since its inception in 1988, providing much-needed assistance to impacted communities.  We can build on this victory by pushing for more TAGs for more groups when the polluter pays fees bill passes. 

Please contact Anne Rabe at CHEJ to get involved in planning actions for Superfund’s 30th Birthday!  Help continue the exciting momentum to refinance Superfund.  To get involved, contact anne@chej.org or call 518-732-4538. Thank you.

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