Superfund Spending Tracked

Less than half of the money budgeted for Superfund toxic waste removal is spent on actual site cleanups, and a growing proportion goes for administrative costs, a congressional report said yesterday.

The new data sparked calls from a Republican congressional leader for the Environmental Protection Agency to quickly implement reforms of the Superfund accounting system that were promised in 1996.

"It's no wonder the Superfund program isn't working. Not even half of the $4.3 billion over the past three years has gone toward cleanup," Rep. Thomas J. Bliley Jr. (R-Va.), chairman of the House Commerce Committee, said in a statement.

The General Accounting Office, the investigative arm of Congress, reported that 42 percent of the $1.4 billion spent last year by the federal government on the Superfund program went toward the actual cleanup of sites.

That figure is down from 48 percent in 1996 for site cleanup and 45 percent in 1997, Bliley said.

Lott Hears Appeal on Nominees

President Clinton meant no contempt for Congress in appointing a gay businessman to a diplomatic post without Senate consent, the president's chief of staff told Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) in an effort to head off retaliation.

John D. Podesta appealed to Lott not to block other White House nominations in the escalating dispute over the appointment of James Hormel as ambassador to Luxembourg.

While the senator remains upset about the president's tactics, Lott spokesman John Czwartacki said, "we expect this to be resolved" before it threatens key nominations.

Those nominations include Lawrence W. Summers as treasury secretary and Richard C. Holbrooke as ambassador to the United Nations.

The dispute erupted a week ago during Congress's Memorial Day recess, when Clinton, tired of waiting for the Senate to act on his 1997 nomination of Hormel, installed him directly. Clinton invoked a provision in the Constitution permitting such appointments during congressional recesses.

Hackers Hit Senate Site Again

Computer hackers attacked the Senate's main Web site yesterday, the second such assault on the Internet page in 16 days.

The hackers defaced the Web page, www.senate.gov, but left a simulation. For example, they left untouched a link to a "today in history" feature but substituted news that "Senator Robert F. Kennedy (D-N.Y.) was assassinated." Kennedy's assassination occurred on June 5, 1968.

In an obvious taunt directed at the FBI, which is conducting a national crackdown on computer hackers, they changed part of the page to read: "You can stop one, but you cannot stop all."

They also left messages supporting hacker Kevin Mitnick, who will be sentenced Monday in Los Angeles to 46 months in prison for computer fraud, and for Eric Burns, 19, who was indicted last month in Northern Virginia on three counts of computer intrusion.