Congressman Pallone Asks EPA Why New Jersey Toxic Sites are Not Eligible for Superfund Dollars
Washington DC - Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06) on Thursday sent a letter to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa Jackson to inquire why certain toxic sites in New Jersey were not included in EPA’s Superfund program. The Superfund program is responsible for cleaning up the nation’s uncontrolled hazardous waste sites. Pallone introduced “The Superfund Polluter Pays Act” to reinstate taxes on the oil and gas companies that frequently create the toxic sites to pay for the clean-up program.
“As the most densely populated state in the country, it is critical that these sites be cleaned up to protect the environment and the health of all New Jersey residents,” Pallone wrote.
The text of the letter is copied below:
February 16, 2012
The Honorable Lisa Jackson
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20460
Dear Administrator Jackson,
I write today regarding EPA’s Superfund program and its critical role in cleaning up the nation’s uncontrolled hazardous waste sites. As you know, in the state of New Jersey we have the most superfund sites in the nation. As the most densely populated state in the country it is critical that these sites be cleaned up to protect the environment and the health of all New Jersey residents.
Recently publicized data showing the Hazard Ranking Scores (HRS) of certain toxic sites in New Jersey shows that 27 sites in the state have an HRS that qualify them for inclusion on the Superfund National Priorities List (NPL) but are not listed and therefore not eligible for federal cleanup dollars. Of particular concern to me are five sites in Middlesex and Union counties that clearly pose significant risks to public health. I would like to know why these sites are not listed on the NPL despite clearly meeting the threshold in the HRS.
I am also concerned with the President’s proposed Fiscal Year (FY) 2013 budget proposal, which recommends a $33 million cut to the Superfund remedial program. This proposed cut comes at a time when the Superfund account was already cut by 5% in FY2012. I plan to work with my colleagues through the appropriations process to restore funding at least to FY2012 levels for FY2013.
Before they expired in 1995, the money to clean up the Superfund sites came from taxes on the polluters themselves. Unfortunately, because Congress has not reauthorized the taxes the burden of funding cleanups of toxic waste sites now falls on the shoulders of taxpaying Americans. I have a bill, the Superfund Polluter Pays Act, that would reinstate the taxes on oil and chemical companies that frequently create these toxic sites. The President’s budget rightly calls for these taxes to be reinstated, but that is not possible unless Congress acts.
I would like to thank you for all of your hard work to protect human health and the environment. Since you have been at the helm at EPA, our country has made great strides in improving air quality, protecting America’s waters and cleaning up our communities. I look forward to working with you on these important objectives.
FRANK PALLONE, JR.
Member of Congress