1998 CPEO Brownfields List Archive

From: Lenny Siegel <lsiegel@cpeo.org>
Date: 09 Sep 1998 17:34:19
Reply: cpeo-brownfields
Subject: Cal Superfund to Sunset
The following is from Sierra Club California. I am posting it to both
CPEO newsbriefs, so I apologize for the duplication to those of you on
both lists.



On the final day of the legislative year, industry (specifically
the California Chamber of Commerce and California Manufacturers
Association) blew up the negotiated Superfund package carried on the Senate floor by Senator Byron Sher.  The package would have extended the California
program by removing the sunset provision (of 1/1/99), amending several provisions, and including new funding to assist some industries in cleanups.  We had a neutral position on the final package, although we had been very active in negotiations to reauthorize Superfund and had been responsible for
keeping provisions out that would have weakened liability provisions and cleanup standards.  We had also achieved some positive new language to
strengthen community involvement and fund community assistance offices.

Industry's actions on the Superfund package represented one of the worst
cases of bad-faith negotiating we have ever seen.  Although industry testified in support of the bill (which had been intensely negotiated over the entire legislative season) on August 25, and gave the impression that they had all business groups behind them, they came back two days later with big problems. They demanded a huge general fund appropriation for orphan share funding, twisting the arm of the Governor's office to ensure that Wilson backed them up.  After further negotiations, we settled on a more balanced funding agreement with industry that was backed by the Governor's office.

On the final day, we learned that the major industry groups were all
opposing the bill.  No specific problems were ever communicated to Sher's office, Assemblymember Howard Wayne's office or us.  Industry's floor alerts
were full of greedy attacks on the orphan funding as too paltry and attacks on the small amount of money we had negotiated for community assistance.  Of course the Governor's office was not helpful; they didn't even turn one vote. Sher's bill failed on the floor 18-15.

Now we are in a situation where the Superfund law expires in January
1999. DTSC has ongoing authority to issue cleanup orders under hazardous waste law and continues to exercise authority under federal law to require
cleanups under the joint/strict/several liability scheme.  It is still a little murky, however, how the sunset of Superfund will affect ongoing cleanups, if at all. Although we are not aware of any imminent public danger as a result of this action, we believe that California is setting a very poor example in allowing Superfund to expire.   We will be working over the interim with volunteer leaders on this issue to assess the implications and devise our strategy for next year.

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