Superfund: Overview and Selected Issues [May 17, 2006]   [open pdf - 131KB]

From the Summary: "Superfund is the federal government's principal program for cleaning up the nation's contaminated waste sites and protecting public health and the environment from releases of hazardous substances. Enacted into law as the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA, P.L. [Public Law] 96-510), the program became known as Superfund because Congress established a large trust fund -- originally supported by taxes levied on specific petroleum products and chemicals -- to provide the majority of the program's funding needs. Although the 25-year-old program has seen less attention compared with earlier years, Superfund issues continue to generate debate. This report provides a background and overview of the Superfund program and examines four topics that have recently received interest. The first issue concerns Superfund program funding: who should pay for the program, general taxpayers or a dedicated tax on industry? The program was originally funded by a tax on industry that expired at the end of 1995. Without dedicated taxes, and with a relatively small balance in the trust fund, Congress has been using general revenues for a larger percentage of cleanup funds. Members of Congress have introduced bills to reinstate the taxes in recent years, but such efforts have lacked the necessary support. […] The fourth issue concerns Superfund's role at animal feeding operations. Stakeholders argue about whether these operations should be required to report ammonia air emissions, primarily resulting from animal waste, as hazardous substance releases. Another question concerns the responsibility for releases of animal waste that reach water bodies. Members sought to add language in the FY2006 agriculture appropriations bill that would have exempted manure from release provisions under Superfund. That effort failed, but similar language has been recently proposed in legislation. This report will be updated as events warrant."

Report Number:
CRS Report for Congress, RL33426
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