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Administrator Browner's Letter to the House Committee

The Honorable Thomas Bliley
Committee on Commerce
United States House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515

(Identical letters to Chafee, Smith, Oxley, Shuster, Boehlert, Baucus, Lautenberg, Dingell, Oberstar, Borski, Manton)

Dear Mr. Chairman:

I am pleased to forward to you the Clinton Administration's legislative reform principles for Superfund, the nation's toxic waste cleanup law. These principles reflect the Administration's vision for the future of Superfund -- a future that builds upon our progress over the past four years. In that time, we have worked to make Superfund faster, fairer and more efficient to protect the nearly 70 million Americans, including 10 million children, who live within four miles of a toxic waste site. As the Superfund Reauthorization process begins, we are sharing these principles so that you and the many stakeholders affected by these cleanups can understand our vision for the future and for the legislative reforms that will help shape that future.

We strongly believe that any legislative reform of Superfund must build on the dramatic progress we have made in improving and speeding toxic waste cleanups across the nation. We have set a record pace for cleaning up toxic waste sites. At this time, 1100 sites are undergoing or have completed cleanup construction, with cleanup complete at more than 400 of the worst toxic waste sites. Fully two-thirds of the completed cleanups were accomplished in the past four years, more than were completed in the first 12 years of the program. We have pledged to clean up an additional 500 sites by the year 2000, doubling the pace of cleanups. Furthermore, EPA's enforcement program has produced extremely favorable results. Private parties have generated almost $12 billion in funds for cleanup and EPA has settled liability with over 14,000 small volume contributors.

The result is a toxic waste cleanup program fundamentally different from the Superfund program of four years ago. However, we know that more remains to be done to protect the health and the environment of American communities. The Administration's principles provide our vision of how we can best address liability and enforcement; remedy selection; State and Tribal roles in cleanup; natural resource damages; community health and community involvement; Brownfields redevelopment and voluntary cleanups; enhanced protection of communities from toxic substances; and other important issues that need to be addressed.

As the House and Senate begin their discussions on responsible Superfund legislative reform, we are particularly pleased that you have invited stakeholders to participate. Their contribution will assist all of us in achieving the broad-based consensus needed to reauthorize this important program.

I hope the enclosed principles will contribute to a common-sense discussion of the responsible reforms needed to advance the Superfund toxic waste cleanup program in the 105th Congress. We stand ready to work with you and all interested parties to achieve the goal of better protection for all American communities through this vital effort.


Carol M. Browner



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