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E&C Leaders Demand Answers for Backlog of Superfund Cleanups Stacking Up Under Trump EPA

Jan 23, 2020
Press Release
The number of unfunded Superfund projects in 18 states and Puerto Rico is reportedly highest in at least 15 years

Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chair Diana DeGette (D-CO) and Environment and Climate Change Subcommittee Chair Paul Tonko (D-NY) today sent a letter to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler demanding answers for the dramatic increase in the backlog of unfunded cleanup projects at Superfund program sites under the Trump Administration.

“Since its creation in 1980, the Superfund Program has provided significant public health and economic benefits nationwide, reducing birth defects and blood lead levels in children living near sites and increasing residential property values after cleanup,” wrote Pallone, DeGette and Tonko. “Unfortunately, the increase in the number of unfunded cleanup projects at Superfund sites follows repeated proposed budget cuts to the Superfund program and raises concerns that the EPA is failing to effectively implement the program.”

Nearly 53 million people live within three miles of a Superfund site.  According to EPA, it was unable to fund new construction projects at 34 Superfund National Priority List sites located in 18 states and Puerto Rico in Fiscal Year 2019, which would have otherwise been ready for new construction.  This figure is significantly higher than the number of sites in recent years with unfunded construction projects.  According to a recent report in the Associated Press, this represents the largest number of unfunded Superfund projects in at least 15 years.

The letter requests a briefing on and documents pertaining to key issues regarding the increase in unfunded new construction work at Superfund sites, including:

  • Any analyses EPA has conducted regarding the root cause of this increase in Superfund sites with unfunded cleanups, and the findings of these analyses;
  • Any programs or initiatives, including proposed budget and spending breakdowns, which EPA will use to address these funding shortages;
  • A summary of and documents related to the Agency’s current understanding of the increased risks to human health and the environment associated with delays in cleaning up these sites;
  • Analysis EPA has conducted regarding the economic impact of delays in cleaning up these sites, including any documents showing such analysis and explaining the conclusions of any analysis completed to date; and
  • The reason for the recent decline in private party commitments obtained through Superfund enforcement actions, and the extent to which this reduction of commitments results in fewer resources being available for new construction projects.

A PDF of the letter is available here.