STATEMENT OF TIMOTHY FIELDS, JR.
February 10 , 1999
TIMOTHY FIELDS, JR.
ACTING ASSISTANT ADMINISTRATOR
OFFICE OF SOLID WASTE AND EMERGENCY RESPONSE
U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY
SUBCOMMITTEE ON WATER RESOURCES AND ENVIRONMENT
COMMITTEE ON TRANSPORTATION AND INFRASTRUCTURE
U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
February 10 , 1999
Good afternoon, Mr. Chairman, and Members of the Subcommittee. I am pleased to have this opportunity to appear before you today, with my colleague Chuck Fox, to discuss the state of EPA programs under the Subcommittee's jurisdiction. I will give a brief overview of the Agency's fiscal year 2000 budget and address the current status and future direction of the Superfund, Brownfields, Oil, and Leaking Underground Storage Tanks programs.
EPA and its partners have made significant strides in providing some of the toughest environmental and public health protections in the world, while maintaining not only a strong economy, but one that is soaring. Building on this record of success, the fiscal year 2000 budget charts a new course to meet the environmental challenges of the coming century. This budget reflects a new American ideal, about protecting the neighborhoods we live and work in and keeping our communities healthy, strong and prosperous.
The President's fiscal year 2000 budget for EPA requests a total of $7.2 billion to protect public health and the environment and provide states and communities new, innovative funding tools to help build strong, healthy communities for the 21st Century.
Three new landmark initiatives are included in this budget.
Better America Bonds is the cornerstone of this Administration's creative initiative to build livable American communities. The Better America Bonds program will provide $9.5 billion in bonding authority through $700 million in federal tax credits over 5 years that will help communities preserve open space, clean up and develop brownfields, and protect water quality.
Clean Air Partnership Fund will provide $200 million to help states, cities and tribes clean their air and meet the challenge of global warming. Through the development of partnerships among local and federal governments and the private sector, the fund will help support locally-managed, self-supporting approaches that help communities achieve their clean air goals sooner than required.
EPA is taking a leadership role in the Administration's efforts to Fighting Childhood Asthma. An additional $17.4 million, for a total of $22.2 million is being requested to implement an interagency initiative for education, outreach and air monitoring.
These innovative tools move our Nation forward with innovative, common sense, cost-effective programs.
While the President's overall request is $400 million less than the fiscal year 1999 appropriation, the Agency also did not extend appropriation earmarks. This is consistent with past practices and has allowed the Agency to strengthen in fiscal year 2000 its core operating programs, such as strengthening enforcement compliance, protecting our food safety, enhancing chemical right-to-know, and bolstering our facility permitting.
The Superfund, Brownfields, Oil, and Leaking Underground Storage Tank programs share a common goal of ensuring that America's wastes will be stored, treated, and disposed of in ways that prevent harm to people and to the environment. EPA works to clean up previously polluted sites, restoring them to uses appropriate for the surrounding communities, and respond to and prevent waste-related or industrial accidents.
I am pleased to report to the Subcommittee on the significant progress we have made in achieving our goals under the Government Performance and Results Act. The Agency and its state and local partners have made great strides in achieving environmental results more quickly and at lower costs. The innovative and successful Brownfields program has provided vital resources for 227 communities across the Nation to chart their own course towards revitalization. Administrative reforms have significantly increased the pace and lowered the cost of cleanups in the Superfund program, resulting in EPA completing construction of 87 National Priorities List (NPL) sites in fiscal year 1998, for a cumulative total of 585. A risk based corrective action strategy is being employed in cleaning up leaking underground storage tanks to better align cleanup goals with risks posed by individual sites while ensuring all sites are still progressing towards cleanup. The Oil program is working to control the cost and impact of oil spills by working to prevent them in the first place.
The Administration is requesting $1.5 billion in support of the Superfund program in fiscal year 2000. The Superfund program directly supports the Administration's efforts to build strong and healthy communities for the 21st Century. Superfund work is carried out at hazardous waste sites throughout the Nation. Following EPA action, many of these sites have been put back into active use by local businesses or governments. EPA works with communities to keep them well informed about the sites that affect them and provide a meaningful role in the cleanup process.
The Superfund program is hard at work and making significant progress in cleaning up hazardous waste sites and protecting public health and the environment to ensure a fairer, more effective, and more efficient program. Almost three times as many Superfund sites have had construction completed in the past six years than in all of the prior years of the program combined. As of September 30, 1998, more than 89% of non-Federal sites on the final NPL are either undergoing cleanup construction (remedial or removal) or are completed. Five hundred eighty five (585) Superfund sites have reached construction completion (41% of sites on the NPL), and 457 Superfund sites (32% of sites on the NPL) have cleanup construction underway. An additional 209 sites (15% of the sites on the NPL) have had or are undergoing a removal cleanup action. Approximately 990 NPL sites have final cleanup plans approved, and approximately 5,500 removal actions have been taken at hazardous waste sites to immediately reduce the threat to public health and the environment. Responsible parties continue to perform approximately 70% of new remedial work at NPL sites, and more than 30,900 sites have been removed from the Superfund inventory of potentially hazardous waste sites to help promote the economic redevelopment of these properties.
Our accomplishments in protecting human health and the environment are significant. Environmental indicators show that the Superfund program continues making progress in hazardous waste cleanup, reducing both ecological and human health risks posed by dangerous chemicals in the air, soil, and water. The Superfund program has cleaned over 132 million cubic yards of hazardous soil, solid waste and sediment and over 341 billion gallons of hazardous liquid-based waste, groundwater, and surface water. In addition, the program has supplied over 350,000 people at NPL and non-NPL sites with alternative water supplies in order to protect them from contaminated groundwater and surface water. Over 14,300 people at NPL and non-NPL sites have been relocated in instances where contamination posed the most severe immediate threats.
The Superfund program is a fairer, more effective, and more efficient program as a result of our administrative reforms which will continue in fiscal years 1999 and 2000. There have been many noteworthy achievements which include the 30 site decisions reviewed by the National Remedy Review Board, resulting in an estimated savings of $43 million; updating more than 200 remedies over a three year period, based on changes in science and technology resulting in a projected savings of over $1 billion; evaluating more than 150 projects since the establishment of the Risk-Based Priority Panel, and establishing Community Advisory Groups at 47 non-Federal sites (more than 100 already exist at Federal facilities). The successes realized throughout Superfund place the Agency in a unique position to achieve and expand Superfund accomplishments in the coming years.
States and Indian tribes are key partners in the cleanup of Superfund hazardous waste sites. With the May 1998 release of the "Plan to Enhance the Role of States and Tribes in the Superfund Program," the Superfund program has provided opportunities for increased State and tribal involvement in the program. As a result, 14 pilot projects with States and tribes have been initiated.
The Superfund program is also committed to continuing to involve citizens in the site cleanup process. EPA strives to create a decision-making process to clean up sites that the communities feel is open and legitimate, and improves the community's understanding of the potential health risks at hazardous waste sites. This is accomplished through outreach efforts, such as holding public meetings, establishing community advisory groups, restoration advisory boards, or site specific advisory boards, providing communities with financial assistance to hire technical consultants to assist them in understanding the problems and potential solutions to the contamination problems, and distributing site-specific fact sheets.
There are several areas of continued emphasis for management improvements. The Regions will continue to use the national automated data base and enhance their procedures to assure data quality so that managers have the appropriate information to make short-term and long-term decisions. EPA will also continue efforts to shift towards performance based contracts in implementing the program and work to improve the effectiveness of independent government cost estimates used to control contract costs.
Over the next two years, the Superfund Response program will continue its emphasis on completing construction at NPL sites (85 completions per year for a cumulative total of 755 by the end of fiscal year 2000, and conducting removal response actions (300). The program will continue to employ administrative reforms to ensure a fairer, more effective, and more efficient program. The program will also work with the States, tribes, and local governments, the surrounding communities, and potentially responsible parties, both Federal and private, to leverage resources and to assure the successful implementation of the Superfund program.
The Superfund tax authority expired December 31, 1995, discontinuing further tax collections. The President's fiscal year 2000 Budget requests reinstatement of all Superfund taxes (including excise taxes on petroleum and chemicals, and a corporate environmental tax). The Trust Fund balance (unappropriated balance) was roughly $2.1 billion at the end of fiscal year 1998.
The Administration is requesting $91.7 million in fiscal year 2000 to support the Brownfields Initiative. The Brownfields Initiative plays a key role in the Administration's goal of building strong and healthy communities for the 21st century. Brownfields are abandoned, idled, or under-used industrial and commercial properties where expansion or redevelopment is complicated by real or perceived contamination. The General Accounting Office has estimated that there are over 450,000 brownfields properties across America. The Agency's Brownfields Initiative empowers States, local governments, communities, and other stakeholders interested in environmental cleanup and economic redevelopment to work together to prevent, assess, safely clean up, and sustainably reuse brownfields.
The Administrator announced the Agency's Brownfields Initiative on January 25, 1995. By the end of fiscal year 1998, significant environmental results had already been achieved. The Agency has awarded 227 assessment pilots to local communities. These pilots, along with targeted state and EPA efforts, resulted in the assessment of 772 brownfields properties, cleanup of 71 properties, redevelopment of 121 properties, and a determination that 549 properties did not need additional cleanup.
The Brownfields Initiative has also generated significant economic benefit for communities across America. By the end of fiscal year 1998, 410 cleanup jobs and 2,110 redevelopment jobs had been created as a result of the program. In addition, pilot communities had already reported a leveraged economic impact of over $1.2 billion.
The Administration's Better America Bonds initiative significantly strengthens the Agency's commitment to helping communities address brownfields. This innovative financial tool will help communities address environmental issues of local concern, including brownfields. The Administration is proposing $700 million in tax credits over five years to support $9.5 billion in bond authority. Some of these resources will be used by local communities to clean up and redevelop brownfields.
In fiscal years 1999 and 2000, the Brownfields National Partnership will continue to represent a significant investment in brownfields communities including more than 100 commitments from more than 20 agencies. Federal resources include additional brownfields pilots from EPA; redevelopment funds from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Department of Commerce/ Economic Development Administration, and job training efforts from the Department of Labor, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Education, and the Department of Veterans Affairs. These funds will help clean up and redevelop nearly 5,000 properties over two years. The centerpiece of the Brownfields National Partnership was the designation of 16 Brownfields Showcase Communities in 1998.
The Agency will also continue to rely on partnership building with local government, State and non-government groups to leverage private sector funding. As part of the Brownfields Initiative, EPA will continue to provide outreach, curriculum development, job training, and technical assistance to community residents through cooperative agreements to community-based organizations, community colleges, universities, and private sector non-profit groups. The Agency will also work with cities, states, Federally recognized Indian Tribes, community representatives, and other stakeholders to implement the many commitments.
In fiscal year 1999, the Agency will fund 100 additional Brownfields Site Assessment Demonstration Pilots for up to $200,000 each. In fiscal year 2000, the Agency will fund 50 new Brownfields Site Assessment Demonstration Pilots for up to $200,000 each. In addition, EPA will provide supplemental funding to 50 existing Brownfields Site Assessment Demonstration Pilots for up to $200,000 each. New and ongoing pilots will continue to provide EPA, states, local governments, and Federally recognized Tribes with useful information and new strategies for promoting a unified approach to environmental site assessment and characterization, and redevelopment. These demonstration pilots are estimated to address 5 to 15 potentially contaminated properties in the participating communities. EPA's limited participation helps leverage further cleanup work at the properties and promotes economic revitalization.
In fiscal years 1999 and 2000, EPA will continue to support state or EPA targeted Brownfields assessments in communities that are not Brownfields assessment pilots. This assistance provides for preliminary assessments and site investigations using standard methodology established by the American Society for Testing Materials. These sites are normally abandoned sites and publicly owned. Privately owned sites are targeted for assessment only after careful consideration of the benefits and sensitivity of expending Federal assessment resources. There must be a clear means of recouping EPA expenditures through an agreement with the owner or developer, or through a lien.
In both fiscal years 1999 and 2000, funding to support the expansion, enhancement, and development of State Voluntary Cleanup Programs (VCPs) will continue to be an important activity in the Agency's attempt to reuse and redevelop brownfields properties. EPA provides both monetary and technical/legal assistance to states and tribes developing and enhancing VCPs. VCPs address contaminated sites which do not require federal action, but which need cleanup before the sites are considered for reuse. The Agency believes that building strong and effective state and tribal programs, such as VCPs, will also complement efforts to address the cleanup of brownfields properties. EPA does not fund the actual site specific oversight of the cleanups, as most state programs nave a fee for service portion of their VCP program to do this. State Superfund program assistance will also be provided to make communication between brownfields pilots and State environmental authorities more efficient, and will expedite the redevelopment and reuse of brownfields properties.
In fiscal year 1999, to further enhance a community's capacity to participate in Brownfields redevelopment, the Agency will fund up to 63 new Brownfields Cleanup Revolving Loan Fund Pilots in communities completing their Brownfields Site Assessment Demonstration Pilot activities or those that have performed a targeted brownfields assessment. The new pilots will be awarded at up to $500,000 each. In addition, the 23 pilots awarded in fiscal year 1997 at $350,000 are eligible to receive supplemental funding up to $150,000 each. This support enables pilots to develop cleanup strategies, make loans to prospective purchasers to clean up properties, and encourage cities to leverage other funds into their revolving loan fund pool. In fiscal year 2000, the Agency will fund 70 new pilots in communities completing their Brownfields Site Assessment Demonstration Pilot activities or their targeted brownfields assessment.
To augment the communities' capacities to clean up brownfields properties in both fiscal years 1999 and 2000, EPA will fund 10 additional job training pilots each year at up to $200,000 each. In addition, EPA will continue to provide $3 million to NIEHS to support worker training for brownfields sites.
In fiscal years 1999 and 2000, EPA will continue to explore connections between RCRA low-priority corrective action efforts and the prevention/cleanup of brownfields properties. In addition, the Agency has formed a fact finding workgroup to gather information concerning the link between brownfields redevelopment/reuse and the conservation of greenspace.
The Agency will continue to study the connection between Brownfields and Clean Air Act goals and requirements in fiscal years 1999 and 2000. In 1998, EPA awarded the first Brownfields/Air Pilot. OSWER will continue to provide technical assistance to /EPA's Office of Air and Radiation (OAR) in support of this effort. The following cities have received Air Pilot funding: Baltimore, MD; Chicago, IL; and Dallas, TX.
Brownfields sites that suffer from water quality impairment can use the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) as a powerful financial instrument for planned corrective action. These resources can help augment the limited financial resources currently available under the Brownfields Initiative's pilot program to cleanup these sites. The CWSRF has in excess of $27 billion in assets and has issued almost $23 billion in loans since 1988.
EPA will continue to examine Title VI case studies at Brownfields sites to provide information on how the Title VI complaint process may affect cleanup and economic redevelopment and the permitting process. The following cities have been identified as case studies: Camden, NJ; Chicago, IL; Miami, FL; Lawrence, MA; Detroit, MI; and Charlotte, NC.
The Administration is requesting $15.6 million in fiscal year 2000 to the support the Oil Program. Oil spills contaminate drinking water supplies; cause fires and explosions; kill fish, birds, and other wildlife; destroy habitats and ecosystems; and impact the food chain. There are also serious economic consequences of oil spills because of their impact on commercial and recreational uses of water resources. The goal of the Oil Spill Program is to protect public health and the environment from these hazards. The Oil Spill Program was strengthened by the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (OPA) which was passed in response to two notable accidental oil discharges into the environment, the Ashland Tank Collapse of January 2, 1988 and the Exxon-Valdez spill of March 24, 1989. Each year over 20,000 oil spills occur, well over half of them within the inland zone over which EPA has jurisdiction. On average, one spill of greater than 100,000 gallons occurs every month from oil storage facilities and the entire transportation network.
The Oil Spill Program works to prevent, prepare for, and most importantly to respond to all spills to the inland waterways, over which the Agency has jurisdiction. Over the past three years (1996 - 1998), EPA has received and evaluated approximately 35,000 oil spill notifications, served as lead responder at approximately 275 of the worst of these oil spills, and shared cleanup responsibility with another party at approximately 475 responses. EPA uses its appropriated money to set up and maintain the response infrastructure, while OPA Trust Fund money is available to finance the actual response work.
In addition, the Oil Spill Program oversees the implementation of regulatory requirements to prevent and prepare for spills at more than 450,000 EPA-regulated oil storage facilities. All regulated oil storage facilities must prepare Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasures (SPCC) plans. In addition, certain high-risk oil storage facilities must prepare Facility Response Plans (FRPs) to identify and ensure the availability of resources to respond to a worst-case discharge, establish communications, identify an individual with authority to implement removal actions, and describe training and testing drill exercises at the facility. To help the Federal government prepare for large worst-case responses, EPA also participates in Area Committees (comprised of state, local and Federal officials) to develop Area Contingency Plans (ACPs). These plans detail the responsibilities of those parties involved in planning the response process, describe unique geographical features of the area covered, and identify available response equipment and its location.
EPA's top priorities for fiscal years 1999 and 2000 are to respond to all oil spills that the responsible party, state or local governments are unable to fully address. In addition, EPA will increasingly focus its efforts on prevention activities at its 450,000 SPCC regulated facilities and on preparedness activities such as Area Contingency Planning. EPA will be redirecting resources, relative to fiscal year 1998 levels, away from Facility Response Planning activities to these other activities.
Leaks from underground storage tanks can pose serious risks to drinking water supplies and on human health and safety. In many cases, leaks from gasoline stations have contaminated household and community drinking water wells. These leaks have also led to explosions that have killed people.
The Leaking Underground Storage Tank Program is the cleanup element of EPA's overall effort to reduce risks posed by underground storage tanks. EPA relies on strong partnerships with state environmental agencies as well as working collaboratively with the regulated community to implement the program. Underground storage tanks are one of EPA's largest regulated universes. In 1988, there were approximately 2 million active tanks and currently there are nearly 900,000 active tanks. Because of the large size of the regulated universe, EPA's public/private partnerships have been essential to addressing the underground storage tank problem in an efficient and cost effective way.
December 22, 1998, marked the final deadline for tank owners to comply with state and federal regulations to replace, close or upgrade substandard tanks. Owners and operators had 10 years to comply with this deadline. EPA anticipates that more releases from tanks will be discovered as these owners and operators who have yet to upgrade their tanks comply with the December 1998 deadline requirements. From the beginning of the program through the end of September 1998, over 370,000 releases have been discovered from tanks and over 200,000 cleanups have been completed. However, approximately 170,000 cleanups have yet to be completed. EPA expects this "backlog" of cleanups that have not been completed will grow over the next few years because more owners and operators are discovering leaks as they upgrade, replace or close their tanks.
Assisting states and tribes to address this "backlog" of cleanups remains one of EPA's highest priorities in fiscal years 1999 and 2000. For fiscal year 2000, the President has requested approximately $71.6 million in LUST Trust Fund money for EPA. Approximately 85% of these funds will be used for states to oversee cleanups and for EPA to implement the corrective action program on Indian Lands. With this funding, EPA expects that approximately 21,000 cleanups will be completed during fiscal year 2000.
EPA's priorities and budget request for fiscal year 2000 are focused on building strong and healthy communities for the 21st century. I believe this holds particularly true for the cleanup programs discussed today. These environmental problems don't just exist in the abstract; they are in thousands of communities across the Nation. The Agency believes that local problems need local solutions and is committed to working with and empowering local citizens and communities to have a strong role in the way these programs are implemented locally. While we have made great progress in addressing environmental problems, more needs to be done. The fiscal year 2000 budget reflects the Administration's commitment to address environmental problems posed by Superfund sites, brownfields, oil pollution, and leaking underground storage tanks, and the needs of the affected communities.
Mr. Chairman, thank you for this opportunity to address the Subcommittee. I would be pleased to answer any questions you or the other Members may have.