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Office of the Vice President

For Immediate Release March 26, 1998

The Republican Superfund bill that the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee approved today would sacrifice our environment and public health to the interests of polluters.

The committee is doing more than producing Superfund legislation that we strongly oppose. Because current law bars the release of critical 1999 cleanup funds until Superfund legislation is enacted, the Republican Congress is trying to force the Administration to accept legislation that lets polluters off the hook. I urge Congress to reject this misguided legislation. But regardless of this bill's fate, I also urge Congress to release these critical cleanup funds without delay. Communities living under the threat of toxics should not have to wait any longer.

This bill is part of a disturbing anti-environmental trend emerging in this Congress. On issues ranging from takings legislation to national forests to clean air, the 105th Congress appears all too willing to trade away hard-won environmental protections.

This Administration has made its goals for Superfund legislation clear: speeding cleanups, cutting litigation, and making polluters pay for the harm they cause. At the start of this Congress, the President and I met with the Congressional leadership to convey our strong view that the Senate bill would move in exactly the wrong direction, weakening cleanup standards and abandoning the polluter pays principle.

Chairman Chafee sought to develop consensus reforms, but the committee has produced a terrible product. It incorporates extreme proposals advanced by an army of special-interest lobbyists seeking to weaken Superfund or erase the cleanup obligations of particular companies. These proposals are the result of a lobbying effort that began in the 104th Congress and has stymied the cause of common-sense Superfund reform ever since.

We will continue to search for common ground on Superfund reform. But I once again urge Congress to disavow proposals that would weaken, instead of strengthen, the Superfund law.