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E-M:/ Superfund: Bush Administration Obscures Truth About Toxic Cleanups



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Enviro-Mich message from "Anne M. Woiwode" <anne.woiwode@sierraclub.org>
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Michigan has more than 60 Superfund sites:


Subject: Superfund: Bush Administration Obscures Truth About Toxic
Cleanups

For Immediate Release: February 26, 2004
For More Information:
Annie Strickler, Sierra Club, annie.strickler@sierraclub.org  (202)
675-2384
Julie Wolk, U.S. PIRG, jwolk@pirg.org, (202) 546-9707

          Bush Administration Obscures Truth About Toxic Cleanups
      1 in 4 Americans still live within 4 miles of a Superfund site,
                        all Taxpayers Foot the Bill

Washington, D.C. -- The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is
misleading
the public about the Bush Administration's failure to clean up toxic
waste
sites and protect public health, according to a new analysis released by
the U.S. Public Interest Research Group and Sierra Club. Superfund
cleanups
have slowed by 50 percent since 2001, with costs for those cleanups
shifting from polluters to average taxpayers, according to the report.

"Fewer sites are being cleaned up, communities are at risk, and
polluters
are off the hook," said Julie Wolk, U.S. PIRG Environmental Health
Advocate.  "Instead of protecting public health by reinstating
Superfund's
polluter pays fees, adequately funding the program, and speeding up
cleanups, the Bush administration is misleading the public and our
elected
officials."

As cleanups slow from an average of 87 completed per year in the late
1990s
to an average of 40 completed per year during the Bush Administration,
communities across the country are living near toxic waste sites for
increasingly longer periods. One in four people in America, including
ten
million children, still lives within four miles of a Superfund site.
Toxic
chemicals at these sites are linked to birth defects, neurological
defects,
and cancer.

The report, "The Truth About Toxic Waste Cleanups: How EPA is Misleading
the Public About the Superfund Program," analyzes actual EPA statements
and
shows that the Bush administration has provided confusing, misleading,
and
even false information to reporters and the public.  Examples include:

     EPA claims: EPA Continues to Aggressively Clean Up Sites and List
New
     Sites to the National Priority List

     The facts: The rate of completed cleanups has fallen by 50 percent
     during the Bush administration compared to 1997-2000, and site
     listings have slowed down as well. The Bush administration has
added
     an average of 23 sites a year to the Superfund list compared with
an
     average of 30 sites from 1993 to 2000, a drop of 23%.

     EPA claims: Funding for the Superfund Program has Not Decreased in
the
     Past Few Years

     The facts: Superfund funding has decreased by 25 percent from
     2001-2004 compared
     to 1992 -2000. According to an October 2003 EPA Inspector General's
     report, 29 cleanup projects in 17 states were insufficiently funded
in
     2003.

     EPA claims: EPA Remains Committed to the Polluter Pays Principle

     The facts: The Bush administration points out that polluters pay
for
     clean ups at 70 percent of Superfund sites. While this is, and has
     always been, true, EPA fails to report that the 30 percent of
cleanups
     where no responsible party can be found are now paid for entirely
by
     taxpayers. Before the polluter pays fees expired and the trust fund
     was exhausted, regular taxpayers paid for only 18 percent of the
     cleanup of those orphan sites.  The Bush Administration opposes
     reinstatement of the fees.

     EPA  claims:  It  doesn't  matter who pays to clean up Superfund
toxic
     waste sites.

     The facts: Superfund was founded on the principle that those most
     closely associated with the creation of toxic waste sites should
bear
     the financial burden of cleaning them up.

"Without the polluter pays fees and the trust fund, EPA can't move ahead
and protect the public when facing a reluctant polluter. Instead,
Americans
pay twice -- first with our health and then with our taxes," said Carl
Pope, Sierra Club Executive Director. "There is a better way. The Bush
administration should demand that polluters pay for toxic cleanups so
that
taxpayers aren't saddled with the bill."

The U.S. General Accounting Office reported that the polluter-funded
Superfund trust fund ran out of money last fall. Without the trust fund
as
a dedicated funding source, the Superfund program competes with every
other
environmental program for scarce taxpayer funds.

"Communities shouldn't be exposed to toxic chemicals from languishing
Superfund sites," said Wolk.  "Instead of hiding the truth, the Bush
administration should protect the public, clean up toxic waste sites,
and
make polluters pay."

The full report is available at http://www.makepolluterspay.org/reports/

 or http://www.sierraclub.org/toxics/factsheets/cleanups.pdf 





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