Deflating Liberal Myths About Superfund

People following the senate debate over the nomination of Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt heard a lot of misstatements about Superfund.

Here are the facts:

MYTH: The Superfund Trust Fund has been depleted and Congress needs to replenish it with new taxes so that the EPA can continue to conduct cleanups at Superfund sites.

FACT: The Trust Fund doesn’t determine EPA’s annual Superfund budget – the Congress does. Even when the Trust Fund ran a significant surplus, EPA could not spend more than Congress allocated for the program. The total amount of spending for the Superfund program is established each year through the Congressional appropriations process. Congress has kept Superfund funding steady.


MYTH: Reduced funding for the Superfund program has curtailed cleanup work.

FACT: There has been no reduction in funding for Superfund. Annual Congressional appropriations for Superfund have been the same – about $1.4 billion – for the past 10 years. The President has asked for a $150 million increase for FY 2004.


MYTH: The Superfund Trust Fund provides most of the resources needed to cleanup toxic waste sites.

FACT: More than 70% of site cleanups have been conducted and paid for by private parties. The law puts the burden of paying for cleanup squarely on responsible parties. The Trust fund only bears the costs of cleanup when no solvent responsible party can be found.


MYTH: The EPA is reluctant to force private parties to pay for cleanup.

FACT: EPA has stated and acted upon its firm commitment to hold responsible parties liable for all costs of cleanup. Superfund enforcement has spurred private parties to conduct and pay for cleanup at more than 70% of Superfund sites. Last year EPA enforcement garnered a record $1.7 billion in cleanup funds from responsible parties – more than EPA spends for Superfund each year.