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June 22, 2010
DOI: 10.1021/cen062410141739

EPA Supports Renewal Of Superfund Tax

Industry Cleanup: Agency urges Congress to pass legislation reinstating tax on chemicals and oil

David J. Hanson

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The Environmental Protection Agency has written a letter to Congress in support of legislation that would renew the tax on chemical feedstocks and crude oil to pay for cleanups at Superfund hazardous waste sites.

"Since the beginning of this Administration, we have made it clear that we support the reinstatement of the polluter pays system for the Superfund program," wrote Mathy Stanislaus, EPA's assistant administrator for solid waste and emergency response. "Today we are formalizing our call to Congress to pass this important legislation and ensure responsible steps to keep our communities clean."

The tax was part of the original 1980 Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation & Liability Act, or Superfund law. It taxed 42 common industrial chemicals and every barrel of crude oil. In addition, it included a separate corporate environmental income tax. If the original tax, which expired in 1995, is reimposed, it could cost companies about $1.7 billion annually.

"By renewing the tax, the industries that had a hand in creating the problem—not taxpayers—will once again be held accountable for cleaning it up," Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) said in a statement praising EPA's support. Blumenauer is a sponsor of a bill in the House of Representatives to reinstate the tax (H.R. 564).

In the Senate, Frank R. Lautenberg (D-N.J.), chairman of the Environmental & Public Works Subcommittee on Superfund, Toxics & Environmental Health, also introduced a bill (S. 3164) to reimpose the tax.

The chemical industry is adamantly opposed to this tax (C&EN, April 19, page 32). In response to EPA's letter to Congress, the American Chemistry Council, a trade association that represents the largest chemical makers, said that reimposition of the tax is a "lose-lose for the environment and the economy."

"America's chemical makers and others targeted by the Superfund tax have paid for site remediation several times over," ACC President and CEO Calvin M. Dooley said in a statement. "We paid for sites for which we were responsible, we helped pay for 'orphan' sites where we were not the responsible party, and we paid the corporate environmental income tax. It would be inappropriate and unfair to impose Superfund taxes on companies with no responsibility for site contamination." ACC also maintains that reimposition of the Superfund tax will result in loss of jobs and damage to the U.S.'s global competitiveness.

Chemical & Engineering News
ISSN 0009-2347
Copyright © 2011 American Chemical Society
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