Superfund Money Will Be Gone in One Month, GAO Says

The countdown has begun: In one month, the Superfund will run out of money, according to a new study by the General Accounting Office. Money in the fund comes from a now-expired tax on industry and is used to clean up “orphan sites,” toxic waste areas around the country where the polluter is unknown, no longer extant, or bankrupt. With the remaining money dwindling and no new industry tax in the works, the federal government will have to pony up tax dollars for the environmental cleanups — or, more likely, allow many of them to languish. On average, Superfund spending comes to between $1.3 billion and $1.7 billion per year, but the Superfund itself has declined from $2 billion in 1995 to just a few hundred million dollars this year. Meanwhile, the number of toxic waste sites continues to grow, with the U.S. EPA adding more spots to the National Priorities List every year.