The Environmental Protection Agency and Rep. James T. Broyhill (R-N.C.) are trying to wrap up an early Christmas present for toxic-waste facilities forced out of business last month by environmental laws.
When the House takes up the "Superfund" cleanup bill today, Broyhill is expected to reintroduce an amendment that would grant reprieves to facilities put out of the hazardous-waste business because of insurance requirements.
The EPA announced last week that more than two-thirds of the nation's 1,600 operating landfills, ponds and lagoons were forced to close rather than meet a Nov. 8 deadline for compliance with federal monitoring and insurance requirements.
Most facilities chose to leave the business rather than sink monitoring wells to look for leaks. But the EPA says that about 45 of them were victims of the sharply curtailed market for pollution insurance.
Broyhill offered the amendment last week but withdrew it when colleagues, including some who were sympathetic to the insurance argument, complained that loopholes in the proposal would let leaking landfills stay in business with no hope of getting insurance.
EPA officials say they have since "fixed up" the amendment, but opponents are still skeptical.
One problem, apparently, is language that would let EPA grant an extension to a facility that makes a "good-faith effort" to obtain insurance. "Good-faith effort" is not defined -- a negligible point, perhaps, unless you consider that it took the agency seven years to define the term "implemented" in one section of the Clean Air Act.
Some industry groups prefer to let EPA grant extensions administratively and believe that the agency would favor such an approach if it had some sign of agreement from Congress.
ACRONYMIC EXERCISES . . . Just when you thought you've heard them all, the EPA trots out a new one. The acronym of the day is LOIS, or Loss of Interim Status. Presumably a short-lived term, it describes what befell all those toxic-waste dumps that forfeited their temporary permits rather than meet the requirements for a full-fledged license.
LOIS is brought to you by the ever-inventive officials of OSWER (that's the Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response), who are perhaps best known for the perennial favorite LUST. Leaking Underground Storage Tanks, that is.
The acroymn is a favored target for those of less prurient bent. Last year, high minds tried (and failed) to change it to RUST (for Regulated Underground Storage Tanks). One is tempted to think that the industry found the acronym too descriptive.
Nevertheless, new OSWER chief J. Winston Porter has launched another attempt to get LUST out of the agency's lexicon if not its heart. Henceforth, he has decreed, the program will be known as UST.
MOVING IN . . . The White House has announced the nomination of J. Craig Potter to be EPA's assistant administrator for air and radiation. Since 1981, Potter has been at the Interior Department, where he now serves as acting assistant secretary for fish and wildlife and parks.
If confirmed by the Senate, Potter would succeed Charles L. Elkins, a career EPA employe who has been acting director since last year.