WASHINGTON, DC – The Environment and the Economy Subcommittee, chaired by Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL), today held a hearing examining implementation of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA). CERCLA was enacted by Congress in 1980 and governs the cleanup of hazardous waste sites, as well as accidents, spills, and other emergency releases of pollutants and contaminants into the environment.
In the 36 years since CERCLA’s enactment many of the sites requiring cleanup have changed and the less difficult sites have been cleaned up. However, CERCLA has not undergone revision or refinement since it was enacted and today members examined whether or not current law is adequate to direct EPA to implement a cleanup program that can efficiently and cost-effectively get today’s sites cleaned up.
Marianne Horinko, President of the Horinko Group, spoke of increasing the role of the states in implementing Superfund, “Virtually every state has a strong and capable cleanup program. Every other environmental statute, of which I am aware, has a strong state delegation authority. It is time to consider authorizing states for all of our federal cleanup capabilities.”
Amy Brittain, Remedial Action Focus Group Chair at the Association of State and Territorial Solid Waste Management Officials, discussed the importance of improving regional management of Superfund contracts, stating, “EPA regions should improve management of Superfund State Contracts to ensure better documentation of EPA costs that States have to match and timeliness of final financial reconciliations. … States have concerns with the lack of detailed line-item documentation on what EPA has spent on site remedies. Too often, States get little information on how the cleanup money was spent by EPA, yet are expected to pay 10% to 50% of the costs incurred.”
Steve Nadeau, Partner at Honigman, echoed Ms. Brittain’s statement, saying, “EPA Headquarters should strictly require regional administrators to adhere to CERCLA, the NCP, and the Sediment Guidance at the site investigation, remedy evaluation, and remedy selection stages at all contaminated sediment sites. … EPA Headquarters should be required to engage in effective oversight of Regions to ensure that Regions are following EPA Guidance on involving public entities in sediment clean-ups.”
“There is a lot of process involved with CERCLA cleanups,” said Chairman Shimkus. “We need to take a serious look at whether that process is working and whether it encourages or impedes timely and efficient cleanups. We will continue to evaluate whether the level of delegation to regional administrators is appropriate and if there is adequate oversight of the regional administrators by EPA headquarters.”
For more information on today’s hearing including an archived webcast, background memo, and witness testimony, click HERE.