Representative Blumenauer Announces Introduction of Superfund Reinvestment Act

June 15, 2015
Press Release

Washington, DC – Today, Representative Earl Blumenauer (OR-03) introduced legislation to require polluters to pay for the cleanup of toxic and hazardous waste sites throughout the United States. Currently, the American taxpayer bears the burden of funding cleanup of these contaminated sites. H.R. 2768, the Superfund Reinvestment Act, restores the ‘polluter pays’ taxes, returning fairness to the process and once again making those responsible for pollution pay for the cleanup.

“The current system is unfair to the American taxpayer, who bears no responsibility for these polluted sites. Companies should pay to clean up their own toxic waste,” said Representative Blumenauer. “These toxic waste sites are threatening the health and economies of communities across the country. It’s time to shift the burden for cleanup back to polluters.”

Superfund sites are the nation’s worst toxic waste sites. The Superfund program was originally created in 1980 to cleanup these contaminated sites. At that time, the Superfund Trust Fund was established to pay for cleanup at sites where the responsible parties cannot be identified or do not have the ability to perform the cleanup. The Trust Fund was financed through taxes on petroleum, certain chemicals and corporate income, ensuring that those industries responsible for pollution pay for the cleanup. These taxes expired in 1995, depleting the funds within the Superfund Trust Fund and shifting the burden for cleanup to the American taxpayer.

There are over 1,100 Superfund sites in the United States that pose risk to human health and threaten the economic and social vitality of the communities that play host to these dirty sites. Approximately 49 million Americans live within three miles of a Superfund site. While the EPA works with responsible parties to pay for the cleanup at most sites, roughly 30 percent of these Superfund sites are “orphaned” sites where no responsible party is present or able to pay for cleanup.

The Superfund Reinvestment Act reinstates the expired Superfund taxes and updates them for inflation, in order to provide a stable source of funding to protect American communities from the toxic legacy of polluting industries.

“For too long, our communities have had to pay the price for the actions of irresponsible polluters, but this important bill finally puts the burden back where it belongs: on the corporations responsible, not the American taxpayer,” said Madeleine Foote, Legislative Representative, League of Conservation Voters. “We commend Congressman Blumenauer’s leadership in introducing this important bill that ensures polluters pay to clean up these contaminated sites and protects the health of our families.”   

“A clear goal of Congress when passing Superfund was to make corporations responsible for their pollution,” said Scott Slesinger, Legislative Director, Natural Resources Defense Council. “The Superfund tax on corporations paid for cleaning up sites where the owners were bankrupt or otherwise judgement proof.  Ending the Superfund tax puts the burden of clean up on the public. Reinstating the Superfund tax will put the burden where it belongs.”

“The Sierra Club thanks Congressman Blumenauer for his leadership on the important issue of Superfund sites, and we support this key legislation to protect public health and ensure that polluters pay for the hazards that they create,” said Melinda Pierce, Legislative Director, Sierra Club.

“Congress must pass Congressman Blumenauer’s bill as impacted communities have been waiting decades for the cleanup of abandoned toxic sites in their neighborhoods,” said Lisa Evans, Senior Administrative Counsel, Earthjustice.