WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ), a member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) reintroduced a bill to hold polluters responsible for the cleanup of contaminated Superfund sites in New Jersey and across the country.
The Superfund Polluter Pays Restoration Act of 2017 reinstates the excise tax on polluting industries to pay for the cleanup of Superfund sites, relieving taxpayers of the expense. It also expands the definition of crude oil in order to make oil from tar sands and shale subject to the excise tax. Additionally, it makes funds available to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on an ongoing basis, not subject to annual appropriations.
“In the face of the Trump Administration’s efforts to gut the Superfund program, it’s more critical than ever that Congress hold polluting industries accountable for the devastating consequences that have been brought on communities across the country,” said Senator Booker. “Superfund sites don’t just contaminate the ground and water—the high levels of carcinogens that seep out have led to heightened risks of cancers, birth defects and other serious health problems for too many Americans. The stakes could not be higher for New Jerseyans—half of our state lives within three miles of one of these Superfund sites. It’s time to address this injustice, clean up these sites, and hold polluting industries accountable for conditions they would never accept in their own communities.”
“Businesses cannot contaminate our land, exploit our resources and endanger our communities without consequence,” said Senator Menendez. “Taxpayers shouldn’t have to pay for the mistakes of companies that contaminate our environment and risk our public health. Making polluters pay will help ensure the Superfund Trust Fund is solvent, strong, and effective to protect the health of our families and environment”
“The American taxpayer shouldn’t be on the hook for cleaning up dangerous messes they didn’t make,” said Senator Whitehouse. “This bill will ensure that polluting industries help to cover the cost of making our communities safe.”
New Jersey has 114 Superfund sites on the National Priority List (NPL), more than any other state. NPL sites are among the most heavily contaminated properties in the country, and are poisoning nearby residents, endangering the health of children, and thwarting economic development in local communities.
According to the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), the EPA does not have adequate resources to clean up the more than 1,300 sites on the agency’s list of most polluted areas, including 89 locations that have “unacceptable human exposure” to substances that can cause birth defects, cancers, and developmental disorders.