Funding Superfund

What is the Polluter Pays Principle?

The Polluter Pays Principle is the concept that those responsible for creating pollution should also be financially responsible for damages done to the environment as a result of the pollution. This principle is utilized around the world as a way to prevent damage to human and environmental health; some examples of the Polluter Pays Principle in the US to include the Gas Guzzler Tax and the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards for motor vehicles.

Until 1995, the Superfund program also included Polluter Pays taxes, which were pooled into a trust fund that helped pay for the cleanup of Superfund sites. Despite bipartisan support, as evidenced by Reagan, Bush, and Clinton all seeking an extension of the taxes, Congress allowed the Superfund Polluter Pays taxes to lapse in 1995. The trust fund, which at one point was making almost $2 million per year between 1993 and 1995, was completed depleted of funds raised by the Polluter Pays tax by 2003.

Crude Oil and Chemical Taxes

Without Polluter Pays taxes, the Superfund program has become largely reliant on taxpayer money; according to a 2015 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, taxpayers cover 80% of Superfund costs. To shift the financial responsibility of Superfund site cleanup away from taxpayers and back to those responsible for the pollution, Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) introduced the Superfund Polluter Pays Restoration Act of 2017. By raising more funds for the Superfund program, this legislation would hopefully allow the program to work more effectively and efficiently.

If enacted, this bill would make the following changes:

  1. Reinstate the Hazardous Substance Superfund financing rate
  2. Increase the tax rate* from 9.7 cents to 15.8 cents per barrel of crude oil Reinstate and increase the rate of taxes* on taxable chemicals**
  3. Modify the definition of “crude oil” to include any bitumen or bituminous mixture, any oil derived from such mixture, and any oil derived from kerogen-bearing sources

*Adjust for inflation after 2018

Put the Super back into Superfund

Want to see polluters pay for their messes rather than taxpayers? Contact your representatives and tell them to support Senator Booker’s bill: Superfund Polluter Pays Restoration Act of 2017 (S.2198).

Contact Your Represenative
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Federal work at Superfund sites suspended during shutdown

January 15th, 2019|Comments Off on Federal work at Superfund sites suspended during shutdown

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — The government shutdown has suspended federal cleanups at Superfund sites around the nation and forced the cancellation of public hearings, deepening the mistrust and resentment of surrounding residents who feel people [...]

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Zionsville Superfund site consultant offers help in Franklin

January 10th, 2019|Comments Off on Zionsville Superfund site consultant offers help in Franklin

ZIONSVILLE, Ind. (WISH) -- A man who worked as an environmental consultant on a federal Superfund site near Zionsville in the 1980s is offering his services to help with an investigation into toxins in Franklin. [...]

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Lois Gibbs Describes the Movement she Sparked and what Today’s Activists Need to Know

December 28th, 2018|Comments Off on Lois Gibbs Describes the Movement she Sparked and what Today’s Activists Need to Know

Listen to the Podcast. In 1978, Lois Gibbs was a young mother with a child in a school that was found to be built over a toxic chemical waste dump site. Lois gained international attention and incredible [...]

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Tucson Water Plant Address New Contamination

December 18th, 2018|Comments Off on Tucson Water Plant Address New Contamination

A water treatment plant in Tucson is replacing more than 56 tons of activated carbon to address newly-discovered perfluorinated compound contamination from the nearby Superfund site. “The fact that we have a treatment plant there at all is [...]

Put the Super back into Superfund