After 15 Years, EPA Wants to Reinstate the Superfund “Polluter Pays” Taxes
On June 21, 2010, EPA sent a letter to Congress supporting the reinstatement of the Superfund tax which expired on December 31, 1995. EPA believes that the tax will provide a “stable, dedicated source of revenue … and increase the pace of Superfund cleanup.” According to EPA, it would also ensure that the parties who manufactured or sold the substances that are being cleaned-up at hazardous waste sites – and not the taxpayers – would bear the cost of cleanup when responsible parties cannot be identified. EPA states that the taxes are needed to ensure that the “polluter pays” for the Superfund program.
Since 1995, the Superfund program has been financed largely from transfers from the country’s general revenue funds. The EPA would like to reinstate the taxes for a 10 year period beginning in January 2011, in the same manner as they were last in effect on crude oil, imported petroleum products, and imported substances that use hazardous chemicals as feedstock.
Carl Dooley, President and CEO of the American Chemistry Council issued a statement in response to EPA’s announcement, calling EPA’s proposal “a lose-lose for the environment and the economy.” Mr. Dooley points out that since 1995, responsible parties have continued to pay for the cleanup of Superfund Sites, — they have paid for sites for which they were responsible, they helped pay for “orphan” sites where they were not responsible parties and they have paid corporate taxes including the Corporate Environmental Income Tax. More importantly, he views EPA’s proposal as being in direct conflict with the desire to grow US jobs and double US exports. According to Mr. Dooley, EPA’s suggestion “will cost US jobs and damage our nation’s global competitiveness without positively affecting site remediation.”
With the recent events in the Gulf and the Deepwater Horizon, EPA’s “polluters pay” declaration will likely be well received in Congress and by the American public.