Senate Democrats accused the Bush administration yesterday of slowing the pace of toxic waste cleanups under the Superfund program as a favor to industry, which historically has picked up most of the tab for the costly cleanups. A Senate Environment and Public Works subcommittee asked Superfund officials to explain why the administration dropped 25 sites from the cleanup list this year and shifted much of the cost from industry to taxpayers. The Bush administration explained the reduced number of cleanups by saying it had chosen to focus on a handful of “megasites,” but Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), who chairs the Superfund oversight subcommittee, said, “The most important parts of the program — the pace of the cleanup and the principle that the polluter must pay — are now under attack by this administration.” The tax on industry that funds the cleanups expired in 1995, and the White House has declined to ask Congress to reinstate it. However, as Superfund coffers run low, administration officials said they might reconsider that position in 2004.
Get Grist in your inbox