Press Release of U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer

For Immediate Release:
February 19, 2004  
Contact:
Washington D.C. Office (202) 224-3553

GAO Analysis Shows 35% Cut In Superfund Spending Since 1993  

WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Sens. Jim Jeffords, I - Vt., and Barbara Boxer, D-Cal., today unveiled an analysis by the General Accounting Office (GAO) which shows that the Superfund program has seen a 35% decline in funding, or $633 million, since 1993.

The GAO analysis, requested by Jeffords and Boxer, shows annual congressional appropriations for the Superfund program, adjusted to account for inflation. These funds, used to clean up the nation's most hazardous toxic dumps, have fallen from over $1.9 billion in 1993 to just over $1.2 billion in 2004 in inflation adjusted dollars.

Jeffords said, "This analysis shows just how far backward we have moved in cleaning-up toxic waste sites. How can we explain to the one in four Americans who live within four miles of a Superfund site that making their community cleaner is not a priority? It is time to reauthorize the Superfund fees on polluters and get the program moving again."

Boxer said, "This report proves that the Administration has drastically cut funding for Superfund. The 14 million Californians who live within 4 miles of a Superfund site are being harmed - perhaps irreparably - as a result of this callous policy. I will fight hard to reverse this dangerous course."

Senator Boxer is the sponsor of the tri-partisan "Toxic Clean-Up Polluter Pays Renewable Act," which would reauthorize the long-expired Superfund tax, a user fee levied against industries that generate pollution. Jeffords is a cosponsor of the legislation.

The Bush Administration has refused to reinstate the polluter pays fees and currently Superfund trust fund is essentially empty.

Originally signed into law in 1980, Superfund is the federal program for the clean-up of hazardous waste sites. The program has made it possible to clean-up 892 of the worst toxic waste sites in the country and has forced companies and industries to better manage pollution and waste. At the heart of the law is the commitment to ensure that the polluters responsible for the contamination, and not the general public, pay for the cleanup.

In the mid and late 1990s, Superfund cleaned up an average of 86 sites per year, but this number has since fallen by more than fifty percent in the last two years. The EPA completed construction only 40 sites in FY 2003, far less than the 87 achieved in the last year of the Clinton Administration. More than 1,200 toxic waste sites on the Superfund National Priority List still await cleanup, while more wait to even be listed for Superfund cleanup.

A copy of the GAO analysis is available upon request.