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E-M:/ Appropriations Deficiency Continues to Slow Superfund Cleanup

Joint Press Release of
                         Representative John D. Dingell
                              Senator Barbara Boxer
                              Senator James Jeffords
                          Representative Hilda L. Solis
                   FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
                   Jodi Bennett/Dingell  202-225-6353
                   David Sandretti/Boxer 202-224-8120
                   Diane Derby/Jeffords 202-224-5141
                   Edith Robles/Solis 202-225-2167        
                           CONTINUES TO SLOW DOWN
                               SUPERFUND CLEANUP
                   Washington, D.C. - Congressman John D. Dingell (D-MI),
                   Ranking Member of the House Committee on Energy and
                   Commerce, Senator James Jeffords (I-VT), Ranking Member
                   of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works,
                   Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Ranking Member of the
                   Senate Subcommittee on Superfund and Waste
                   Management, and Representative Hilda Solis (D-CA),
                   Ranking Member of the House Subcommittee on
                   Environment and Hazardous Materials, today released an
                   Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Inspector General
                   (IG) report that identifies a funding shortfall of at least $174.9
                   million dollars in the Superfund Toxic Waste Cleanup
                   program. This shortfall has dramatically slowed the pace of
                   cleanup at the nation's most toxic waste sites, including 29
                   sites in seventeen states.
                   For the second consecutive year, the EPA Inspector General
                   has documented enormous funding deficiencies, which
                   undermine the protection of public health and the
                   environment. Moreover, the Republican-controlled Congress
                   has produced an Omnibus Appropriations bill for FY 2004
                   that further cuts the Superfund program by $7 million dollars
                   from the FY 2003 level. The U.S. Senate is expected to vote
                   on the Omnibus Appropriations bill for FY 2004 when it
                   returns on January 20, 2004.
                   "This huge funding shortfall is not only dramatically slowing
                   progress in cleaning up toxic waste sites, but is also
                   preventing the beneficial reuse of the sites and harming
                   economic redevelopment in our communities," said
                   Representative Dingell. "The Bush Administration has
                   dramatically decreased cleanups and opposed efforts to
                   renew the polluter taxes."
                   "The Bush administration's continued lack of commitment to
                   funding Superfund is slowing down site clean-ups," said
                   Senator Boxer. "This means increased risks to human health
                   and the environment -- risks and costs that the taxpayers are
                   covering while the polluters get off scot free. We must put the
                   'fund' back in Superfund and reinstate the polluter fees."
                   "The report confirms that the Superfund program is
                   chronically underfunded, leaving arsenic, PCBs and other
                   toxic wastes festering at sites across the nation," said
                   Senator Jeffords. "The funding shortfall has forced EPA to
                   delay or scale back clean-ups needed to prevent hazardous
                   chemicals from running into our streams and contaminating
                   our groundwater and drinking water. Yet the Bush
                   Administration continues to oppose reauthorizing the
                   "polluter pays" fees that would relieve budgetary pressure on
                   the program, accelerate the cleanup of contaminated sites
                   and hold corporate polluters accountable."
                   "The Inspector General's numbers reveal that EPA's budget
                   just doesn't add up," said Representative Solis. "As a result,
                   sites that should be cleaned up to protect public health are
                   just being fenced off to keep the public out. This is not only
                   unhealthy for our families and environment, it creates blighted
                   areas in communities that are already struggling."
                   The IG investigation was conducted at the request of the
                   Ranking Members after it became clear that the pace of
                   cleanups completed at Superfund toxic waste sites has fallen
                   by more than 45 percent from the average of 87 sites per
                   year during President Clinton's second term and has
                   decreased each year under the Bush Administration.
                   Attached is a copy of the Inspector General special report, a
                   list of key findings and a fact sheet on the under-funded sites.
                                           - 30 -

Katie Murtha

Office of Congressman John D. Dingell

2328 Rayburn House Office Building

Washington, D.C. 20515