Rep. Tom Bliley's characterization of the federal Superfund program in "Superfund Law Needs a Cleanup" [op-ed, Aug. 16] is outdated.
The Clinton administration launched three rounds of Superfund administrative reforms when Congress failed to pass legislation to reauthorize the program. These administrative reforms have resulted in a faster, fairer, more efficient program that is highlighted by the following facts:
Almost three times as many toxic waste sites have had cleanup construction completed during the Clinton administration as in all other administrations combined. From 1981 to 1992, 155 sites were completed. From 1993 to the present, 458 sites have been completed.
The cleanup of a site now takes 20 percent less time, down from 10 years in 1993 to eight years in 1998.
The cost of cleaning up a site is also 20 percent less.
More than 18,000 small contributors to toxic waste sites, including many small businesses, have received expedited settlements from the EPA to protect these parties from litigation.
Cleanup decisions have been updated to use the newest technologies, saving taxpayers and liable parties more than $1 billion.
Seventy percent of Superfund's budget goes to the cleanup of toxic waste sites, with the balance devoted to enforcement, research and other critical functions.
I agree with Rep. Bliley that targeted legislative reform still is needed. The administration has asked Congress to pass bipartisan legislation that would exempt small parties from Superfund liability, protect prospective purchasers, innocent landowners and contiguous property owners, and build upon EPA's successful Brownfields program and redevelop abandoned, contaminated properties. However, Congress has failed to pass responsible Superfund legislation. In addition, Congress has failed to reinstate the expired Superfund trust fund, which helps fund the cleanup of toxic waste sites.
It is time for Congress to pass responsible Superfund reform legislation that builds upon the success of the administration's reforms.
TIMOTHY FIELDS JR.
Office of Solid Waste
And Emergency Response
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency