E&C Republican Leaders Push EPA to Be Accountable for the Superfund Program

Washington, D.C. — Energy and Commerce Committee Republican Leader Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) and Environment and Climate Change Subcommittee Republican Leader David B. McKinley (R-WV) are pressing Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Michael Regan to be accountable with the vast amount of money it has been allotted to address Superfund sites and its implementation of the program.

After the EPA received $3.5 billion from Congress for Superfund sites, the EPA is requesting in President Biden’s proposed budget an additional $454.6 million annually for long-term remedial actions. The members want to know from Administrator Regan how these funds, in addition to the billions of dollars at EPA’s disposal for Superfund projects, are being used and how the agency will ensure the disbursements are transparent.

Americans expect the EPA to use its funds responsibly and for the EPA to actually clean up these cites, not just squander the money irresponsibly. The members point out how during the Trump administration, the EPA operated in a far more efficient manner.

LETTER EXCERPT: “The most important goal of [Superfund] program is to clean up sites so that they can be deleted from the National Priorities List (NPL) and placed back into productive use. Merely completing construction at a site does not mean a cleanup is done and people can reuse that land.

“Regrettably, there is a history of CERCLA resources being wasted on transaction costs instead of actual cleanup. Reports indicate that less than half of these funds have gone to actual cleanup (or ‘moving dirt’) and that cleanups take between one and two decades to complete. Progress at EPA de-listing CERCLA sites bottomed out in fiscal year 2016 with EPA focused on other policy goals and less than 5 sites were removed.

“In fiscal years 2017 through 2020, however, EPA recommitted to CERCLA cleanups and fully or partially delisted 82 sites – matching the total of the preceding eight years. The Agency also deleted all or part of 27 NPL sites, the largest number of deletions in a single year in twenty years. In addition, EPA employees initiated a process to streamline internal barriers to site deletions, resulting in a consolidated rulemaking process that will reduce workloads, shorten process lead times, and lower program costs. We do not want to return to past inefficiencies, and we want to ensure that the EPA’s allocation and use of federal resources will keep cleanups moving forward.”

As part of their inquiry, the members want Administrator Regan to answer certain questions about the EPA’s Superfund operations by June 24, 2022.

  • Why is the Biden administration asking for additional appropriations in the budget in light of the very substantial funding provided by the IIJA, including the Superfund tax receipts, which are not subject to appropriation?

  • What are the EPA’s plans for the expenditure of the $3.5 billion from the IIJA?

  • What are EPA’s plans for the receipts from the Superfund tax?

  • What is EPA doing to optimize the spending of funds from the Superfund Special Accounts?

  • What percentage of the annual Superfund expenditures from annual appropriations is actually planned to be spent on Superfund field work? Of that amount, how much is meant for actual remedial and removal activities?

  • Please identify on which sites EPA intends to spend IIJA funding for “dirt-moving” remediation or removal and those sites addressed through the requested, appropriated dollars. Of these, how many will be delisted?

  • Why does the proposed budget request seek $33 million less for Emergency Response and Removal – actual emergency cleanup – than in FY 2021?

CLICK HERE to read the full letter to Administrator Regan.