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Chris V.
Democrat MD 8

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  • Reducing Excessive Deadline Obligations Act of 2013

    by Representative Chris Van Hollen

    Posted on 2014-01-10

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    VAN HOLLEN of maryland in the house of representatives Thursday, January 10, 2014 The House in Committee of the Whole House on the state of the Union had under consideration the bill (H.R. 2279) to amend the Solid Waste Disposal Act relating to review of regulations under such Act and to amend the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 relating to financial responsibility for classes of facilities: Mr. VAN HOLLEN. Mr. Chairman, I rise in opposition to H.R. 2279, which would needlessly complicate efforts to clean up our most dangerous Superfund sites by letting polluters off the hook for cleanup costs and creating conflict and confusion between state and federal law.

    One in four Americans lives within three miles of a hazardous waste site, frequently in vulnerable communities. These sites endanger human health, increasing risk for cancer, birth defects, acute poisoning, and injury from fire or explosion. They are also blights in communities-- vacant lots and underutilized land that that impede economic development.

    Our nations' Superfund law, passed in 1980, gives the Environmental Protection Agency the authority to compel polluters to pay to repair the damage they caused, either by cleaning up themselves or by reimbursing the federal government for its cleanup efforts. The cleanup process requires assessing and ranking sites to prioritize the most hazardous areas, and working with states and private parties to remediate the land.

    Today's bill would undermine the requirement that high-polluting industries obtain insurance or post bonds to ensure that areas would be cleaned up if they become Superfund sites, reducing the incentive to limit contamination and sticking taxpayers with the bill if cleanup is necessary. It would prohibit the EPA from enforcing financial responsibility requirements in any state that sets its own rules, even if those rules are inadequate to protect taxpayers. It also confuses federal and state responsibilities on cleanup sites, subjecting federal employees to fines or imprisonment if they fail to comply with state orders even when they conflict with federal law. This confusion will only lead to increased litigation, delay, and wasted resources.

    Superfund sites are dangerous threats to public health and economic progress in our most vulnerable communities, and we should be working to make the cleanup process as seamless and efficient as possible. This legislation would hinder that effort, and I urge a no vote.


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