|From:||Lenny Siegel <email@example.com>|
|Date:||Fri, 23 Jun 1995 09:37:18 -0700 (PDT)|
|Subject:||Rep. Reps on Superfund and Defense|
STAND On May 17, ten powerful Republican leaders of the House National Security Committee and the House Appropriations Committee sent letters to leaders of the committees charged with responsibility for developing a new Superfund Reauthorization Bill. The letter argues that Superfund rules make it too costly to clean up military bases, but the recommendations of the signers are not too far from administration policy. They directly challenge, however, the role of states in controlling federal facility cleanup efforts. The letter explains the members concern: "Obviously, the manner in which Superfund legislation is crafted this year will significantly affect the defense budget and ultimately, the availability of defense dollars for legitimate defense requirements - matters of obvious interest to the Committees on National Security and Appropriations." The letter concludes, "We are past the point where the nation can afford Superfund remediation strategies which are not cost effective and which do not take into account the increasingly limited resources the Departments of Defense and Energy can dedicate to cleanup activities. Such activities, while important, are collateral to the central missions of both departments." In other words, cleanup takes money that the signers believe could better be used on new weapons systems. State Authority Despite the general Republican thrust of turning more power over to the states, the signers oppose legislative proposals - such as those included in last year's Superfund act - that would transfer authority over federal facility cleanup over to the states. They argue that such a transfer would make it impossible "to prioritize cleanup efforts according to the relative risk to human health ..." They also say that states would be able to impose remedies, no matter how much those remedies would cost the Department of Defense. And they suggest that states would be able to unilaterally abrogate existing federal facility cleanup agreements. This last argument is particularly weak; if any party has that power, it's Congress. If they fail to persuade their colleagues that authority should not be transferred to the states, they recommend conditions to ease the impact. They want measures of cost effectiveness; they want remedies to be based upon "real," not theoretical risks. They propose, "If states seek to impose remedies that do not meet such criteria, then they should be required to pay at least the incremental costs associated with selecting a 'cadillac' remedy." Ironically, many citizens' groups also oppose transferring authority to the states, not because remedies would be too strong, but because many states have ineffective environmental programs and, particularly in the south, lag far behind U.S. EPA in the recognition of the significance of race-based environmental injustice. In fundamental challenge to the current role of state regulators, the signers also say "states should be limited in their ability to impose fines and penalties against federal facilities for failure to comply with cleanup milestones established in Superfund remediation agreements." This idea is buried in the middle of a paragraph in the third page of the letter. This is strange, considering that it conflicts with a cornerstone of currently accepted states' rights. Remedy Selection The members argue that there should not be a preference against the selection of bioremediation and containment as cleanup technologies. However, I am unaware of any policy against bioremediation - all parties seem to favor increased use of such technologies, where technically appropriate. Like the administration, they recommend that the preference for permanent treatment be abandoned except at hot spots. The signers also want cleanup stands to vary from site to site, but they want - similar to the administration - increased acceptance of generic remedies. They recommend, "Use of proven 'off the shelf' or generic remedies are particularly suitable to certain site types, such as landfills, where the source and type of contamination is similar." As someone whose RAB is looking at a proposed remedy for two landfills - located below sea level in an environmentally sensitive area - I don't think they recognize the wide range of landfill remediation problems.. Land Use Like the Energy and Defense Department, the committee leaders want the Departments of Energy and Defense to have authority - actually, this would mean additional authority, because it can already be done - to consider anticipated land use in designing remedies. Apparently unaware of the lengthiness of the reuse planning process, they propose, "The 'final' use of an area should be determined before the cleanup 'standard' is established." The signers are all Republican representatives who hold committee or subcommittee chairs on Appropriations and National Security: Floyd Spence, Bob Livingston, Duncan Hunter, Herb Bateman, Joel Hefley, Barbara Vucanovich, C.W. Bill Young, Jerry Lewis, Curt Weldon, and Bob Dornan. Lenny Siegel
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