When the Superfund program first passed Congress in 1980, there was one word that marked the moment: justice. Finally, polluters were on the hook for cleaning up neighborhoods, waterfronts, and schoolyards. Many Americans living near toxic waste sites were already mired with health complications, including epilepsy, miscarriages, nephrosis, and even fatal illnesses. For once, the afflicted would benefit from those doing the afflicting.
But today, the Superfund program is languishing. Only a small fraction of identified sites have been successfully remediated during the 40 years of the program. This is mainly due to a lack of funds, after a critical polluter tax expired over 25 years ago.
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