Senate blasts EPA Administrator for halving of Superfund projects

Despite Bush’s promise to sort out the US’s problems with contaminated land, funding for the Superfund programme has halved since the Clinton era, with the Environment Protection Agency Administrator facing tough questioning over the issue by Senators.

EPA Administrator Christie Whitman has been forced to give evidence at a hearing at the Capitol to explain why the EPA is reducing the number of Superfund sites scheduled for cleanup from more than 80 a year at the end of the Clinton administration to around 40, reports the San Francisco Chronicle.

Whitman explained that the EPA does not have sufficient money. The tax on oil and chemical companies that produce or use toxic substances expired in 1995, and Republican politicians have since blocked its reauthorisation. President Bush’s recent budget proposal indicated that he has no plans to re-impose the Superfund tax.

“One of the concerns that I know the President has had about the way the Superfund tax is imposed is that it’s not all on polluters,” Whitman is reported as telling the House panel. “It is on everyone in an industry, so that even those that have the best of environmental records are also paying.”

Only in January, President Bush introduced his first piece of new environmental legislation, to aid the cleanup of contaminated sites and designed to replace Superfund, and expressed his commitment to such activities (see related story).

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