Superfund Trust Fund Runs Dry
Polluters are paying less and taxpayers are paying more to clean up hazardous U.S. waste sites than they were seven years ago, according to an analysis by U.S. Public Interest Research Group (U.S. PIRG).
The polluter funded trust from which the Superfund program got its name is bankrupt as of today, the public interest advocacy organization points out, and this leaves taxpayers with the liabilities.
“The bankruptcy of the Superfund trust fund marks a dramatic shift in toxic waste cleanup policy. The Bush administration is letting polluting industries off the hook again and leaving regular taxpayers to pay cleanup costs,” said Julie Wolk, Environmental Health Advocate for U.S. PIRG.
A recent report by the General Accounting Office, the investigative arm of the U.S. Congress, confirmed that Superfund’s trust fund would be essentially gone by September 30 – the end of fiscal year 2003 – leaving regular taxpayers to carry the financial burden for toxic waste cleanups.
In 1995, taxpayers paid for only 18 percent of the Superfund program, or $300 million, the U.S. PIRG analysis shows.
Next year, American taxpayers will pay between $1.1 and $1.265 billion for the program, an increase of between 263 percent and 317 percent, the organization said.
Meanwhile, the advocacy group charges that large polluting corporations enjoy a $4 million per day tax break as long as the Superfund polluter pays fees are not reinstated.
Former Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and Bill Clinton all collected polluter pays fees, or supported their reinstatement, but the current Bush administration is opposed to reinstating the fees.
“At the same time that taxpayers are paying more and polluters are paying less, the number of Superfund sites getting cleaned up has been cut in half,” said Wolk.
“Under the Bush administration, the one in four Americans, including more than 10 million children, who still lives within four miles of a Superfund toxic waste site will continue to be exposed to toxic chemicals,” she said.
Last year, the Bush administration cleaned up 42 Superfund toxic waste sites and expects to clean up approximately 40 sites this year. This is a more than 50 percent decrease from the late 1990s when EPA cleaned up an average of 87 sites per year.
Provided by theEnvironmental News Service.