Superfund Reinvestment Actby Representative Earl Blumenauer
Posted on 2014-01-14
in the house of representatives
Tuesday, January 14, 2014
Mr. BLUMENAUER. Mr. Speaker, last week, the House passed legislation
to weaken and fragment the already underfunded federal Superfund
program. This was a step in the wrong direction. Today, joined by 15
original cosponsors, I am reintroducing legislation to reauthorize
Superfund taxes on polluting industries; provide more funds to clean up
toxic waste sites; and relieve much of the funding burden currently
shouldered by taxpayers through general revenue funds.
Across the country there are 1,321 severely polluted superfund sites, some federal and some private. These sites threaten humans with exposure to toxics such as arsenic, benzene, PCBs, mercury and a wide range of solvents, resulting in health problems such as infertility, low birth weight, birth defects, leukemia and respiratory difficulties.
Passed by Congress in 1980, the Superfund program has resulted in the cleanup of more than 1,000 toxic waste sites in communities all over the U.S., freeing residents from health risks and fears that come from living close to toxic waste. In the majority of cases, EPA works with the parties who have been found responsible for the pollution and they pay for the cleanup. However, at some sites, those responsible for the pollution cannot be found or do not have the ability to pay, and the government pays for the cleanup. Historically, the Superfund trust fund was used for this process, which was supported by taxes on petroleum products and chemicals. Because Congress has not reauthorized these Superfund taxes since 1995, the trust fund was depleted and the funding source for the cleanup of orphan sites has shifted primarily to general funds.
The Superfund Reinvestment Act will reinstate Superfund taxes to their previous levels, including excise taxes of $.097 per barrel on crude oil or refined oil products, excise taxes of $.22 to $4.87 per ton on certain chemicals, and a corporate environmental income tax of .12 percent on a corporation's modified alternative minimum taxable income that exceeds $2 million. This legislation also includes language to guarantee that money from the Trust Fund is only spent on Superfund cleanups.
I urge my colleagues to join me in working to strengthen the Superfund program by ensuring that polluters continue to pay. This will go a long way towards cleaning up America's most toxic waste sites, and helping to keep our communities and our families safe, healthy, and economically secure.