WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Bob Menendez and Cory Booker (both D-N.J.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), along with Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (N.J.-06) today introduced a bill to hold polluters responsible for the cleanup of contaminated Superfund sites in New Jersey and across the country.
The Superfund Polluter Pays Restoration Act reinstates and indexes for inflation the excise tax on polluting industries to pay for the cleanup of Superfund sites, relieving taxpayers of the expense. It also expands the definition of crude oil in order to make oil from tar sands and shale subject to the excise tax. Additionally, it makes funds available to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on an ongoing basis, not subject to annual appropriations.
“Taxpayers shouldn’t have to pay to clean up the mistakes of companies that contaminate our environment and risk our public health. It’s time to hold these polluters accountable for the damage they cause and make them pay to clean up these hazardous sites,” said Sen. Menendez. “Making polluters pay will help keep the Superfund Trust Fund solvent and effective at both revitalizing polluted lands and waters and protecting the long term health of our families and environment.”
“Superfund sites don’t just contaminate the ground and water—the high levels of carcinogens that seep out have led to heightened risks of cancers, birth defects and other serious health problems,” said Sen. Booker. “The stakes could not be higher for New Jerseyans—half of our state lives within three miles of one of these Superfund sites. It’s time to address this injustice, clean up these sites, and hold polluting industries accountable for conditions they would never accept in their own communities.”
“Superfund sites are a lurking danger to the health of nearby communities,” said Sen. Whitehouse. “We need to hold polluters accountable for the messes they’re all too happy to make in someone else’s backyard. Taxpayers should not be on the hook to clean up the toxic remnants private industries leave behind.”
“The American taxpayer should not be paying for the mistakes of corporate polluters,” said Rep. Pallone. “Superfund sites threaten public and environmental health in New Jersey and across the country, and those sites could be cleaned up faster with adequate funding. The Superfund Polluter Pays Act will replenish the necessary funds by holding corporations accountable for environmental degradation. Congress must step up and pass legislation that protects hardworking families from having to pay for the misdeeds of corporate polluters.”
New Jersey has 114 Superfund sites on the National Priority List (NPL), more than any other state. NPL sites are among the most heavily contaminated properties in the country, and are poisoning nearby residents, endangering the health of children, and thwarting economic development in local communities.
According to the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), the EPA does not have adequate resources to clean up the more than 1,300 sites on the agency’s list of most polluted areas, including 89 locations that have “unacceptable human exposure” to substances that can cause birth defects, cancers, and developmental disorders.
Full text of the legislation can be viewed here.