EPA Supports Superfund Tax Reinstatement

by | Jun 22, 2010

The EPA is supporting a reinstatement of the Superfund “polluter pays” tax, according to an agency press release. Superfund is the federal government’s program that investigates and cleans up uncontrolled or abandoned hazardous waste sites.

According to the agency, the provision would provide a stable, dedicated source of revenue for the program and increase the pace of Superfund cleanup. The tax was allowed to lapse in 1995. According to a Bloomberg report, Congress has provided $1.2 billion a year since then to fund cleanup of the sites, though costs usually run to $3 billion.

The administration is proposing to reinstate the taxes as they were last in effect on crude oil, imported petroleum products, hazardous chemicals, and imported substances that use hazardous chemicals as a feedstock, and on corporate modified alternative minimum taxable income. Under the administration’s proposal, the excise taxes and corporate environmental taxes would be reinstated for a period of 10 years beginning in January 2011.

The American Chemical Council attacked the plan, saying chemical companies have already paid enough to clean up polluted sites and should not be taxed further. Sen. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma opposes the tax, which would target the oil and gas and chemical sector, even in cases where companies are not directly responsible for the pollution of a site.

But cleanup of the sites has slowed considerably since the fund ran out of money in 2003. Only 19 sites were completed last year, compared to 89 in 1999. There are 1,279 sites on the list.

The EPA also announced that it would be delaying the implementation of lead paint rules for companies.

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