Magazine article Occupational Hazards

EPA Battles for $650 Million

Magazine article Occupational Hazards

EPA Battles for $650 Million

Article excerpt

The Clinton administration and Congress are embroiled in a battle over $650 million for Superfund cleanups.

Under terms of the fiscal 1998 EPA budget bill, an additional $650 million would be released only if the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act was reauthorized by May 15, 1998. Congress failed to produce a bipartisan bill by that date and the deal for the additional money was terminated. This has led to a bitter back-and-forth battle between the administration and Congress.

In an attempt to restore the funds, the administration announced an amendment to tile fiscal 1999 EPA appropriations bill that would reauthorize the Superfund law and release the money.

Vice President Al Gore said 171 Superfund sites in the final stages of remediation would not move forward without the $650 million and EPA's goat of a 900-site cleanup by 2001 would fall short. Progress at these sites "would come to a screeching halt," Gore said. "This is not the time to delay environmental cleanups."

Senators John Chafee (R-R.I.), Robert Smith (R-N.H.) and Christopher Bond (R-Mo.) issued a joint statement criticizing Gore and the administration's attempt to retrieve the funds for EPA.

In the statement, the senators said the allegation that site cleanups will be put on hold is completely untrue, adding the Superfund program will not run out of money. "[EPA and the White House] should work with us, not against us, in our attempts to reform Superfund," they complained.

In the House, Rep. Thomas Bliley (R-Va.) said a bipartisan reform effort would "likely be law now if Mr. Gore cared as much about environmental cleanup as he does about running for president."

Several attempts to rewrite the Superfund statute have caused bitter conflicts in Congress and have left the issue divided along party lines. …

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