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Sierra Club
SEPTEMBER 30, 2004
10:36 AM
CONTACT: Sierra Club 
Annie E. Strickler (202) 675-2384
Sierra Club Marks One Year Anniversary of Superfund Trust Fund Bankruptcy - Bush Administration asking Taxpayers, not Polluters, to Pay for Toxic Waste Cleanups

WASHINGTON - September 30 - Today, September 30th, marks the one year anniversary of the bankruptcy of the Superfund Trust Fund. The federal Superfund toxic waste program ran out of polluter-contributed funds exactly a year ago, leaving taxpayers with the entire bill. Once the Bush administration refused to honor the polluter pays principle, they stopped holding big oil and chemical companies accountable for the messes they made.

“Across the country important cleanups will not be funded, and the health risks persist for our families and communities,” said Carl Pope, Sierra Club Executive Director. “The polluting companies who left this toxic mess in our backyard should be cleaning it up, not taxpayers. The Bush administration needs to realize that it’s time to stop putting polluters before the public.”

In 1995, Congress failed to renew the taxes which funded the trust fund, shifting the burden of financing cleanups to taxpayers and away from polluters. The Bush administration is the first since the Superfund program began not to support the polluter pays principle. On September 30, 2003, the trust fund went bankrupt of polluter pays dollars, meaning that taxpayers are now shouldering the entire cost of the program.

While polluters may no longer have to pay to clean up the messes they leave in communities, the price tag on clean-ups has jumped dramatically: from $300 million in 1995 to more than a billion dollars this year -- a jump of more than 300 percent. This year an estimated 46 sites in 27 states will not be funded or will be inadequately funded.

Even though taxpayers are paying more to restore these places, clean-ups of toxic waste sites have slowed dramatically. Since the Bush administration took office, the number of Superfund cleanups completed has been cut in half. In the late 1990s, the Environmental Protection Agency cleaned up an average of 87 sites a year. Last year, on the Bush administration’s watch, just 40 cleanups were completed.

“It’s scary that one in four Americans lives within a short bicycle ride of a toxic waste site,” continued Pope. “The Bush administration should reinstate polluter pays principle, use existing technologies to immediately start cleaning up remaining toxic waste sites, and ensure a healthy future for all of America’s families.”

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