STATEMENT OF LOIS J. SCHIFFER
ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL
ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL RESOURCES DIVISION
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
SUPERFUND, WASTE CONTROL, & RISK ASSESSMENT SUBCOMMITTEE OF
THE ENVIRONMENT AND PUBLIC WORKS COMMITTEE
UNITED STATES SENATE
March 21, 2000
Good afternoon Mr. Chairman, and Members of the Subcommittee. I am pleased to have this opportunity to talk to you this afternoon about the current status of the Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA, or more commonly know as Superfund.) As the Assistant Attorney General for the Environment and Natural Resources Division, I am responsible together with EPA for federal enforcement of this country's environmental laws, including Superfund.
You have just heard from Tim Fields about our great progress in making the Superfund program fairer, faster and more efficient. I would like to focus on the enforcement side of the program. The "enforcement" side of the Superfund program refers to the EPA and the Department of Justice's actions to assure that the parties responsible for creating Superfund sites (known as potentially responsible parties or "PRPs"), clean up these sites. During the 20 year history of Superfund, the enforcement program has evolved from one that focused on litigation to a program in which most PRPs enter into settlements or voluntarily comply with administrative orders, rather than litigating with the government. In order to understand the current status of enforcement efforts under the program, it is useful to understand this evolution. You will see that the Superfund program you see today is not the program that existed throughout the 1980's and even the early 1990s.
The Superfund program was enacted in 1980 in response to a public outcry over environmental contamination and human health hazards being discovered at such notorious hazardous waste disposal sites as Love Canal and Valley of the Drums. Decades of careless dumping and improper disposal led to a proliferation of dangerous hazardous waste sites across the country. These sites were contaminating soil and groundwater, fouling our drinking water sources, and threatening the health of our communities.
CERCLA was enacted to provide the federal government with the authority and funding to clean these sites up. Congress also decided that the parties that created these environmental hazards should pay for cleaning them up. This "polluter pays" principle is implemented in the liability and enforcement provisions of the statute.
In the early years after CERCLA's enactment in 1980, the federal government sought to enforce the liability provisions of the statute through lawsuits brought in federal court seeking injunctive relief under section 106 of the statute. As with any new statute, many legal issues had to be resolved, and litigation proceeded slowly. Moreover, courts were called upon to resolve complicated technical issues regarding what would be an appropriate remedy. Given their inexperience in this area and the lack of precedent in this area, they were understandably slow in resolving these issues. Thus, the 1980's was marked by extensive litigation and a relatively slow pace of site cleanups.
In 1989, in a desire to accelerate the pace of cleanups, EPA and the Department reviewed this litigation approach to enforcing Superfund liability and as a consequence developed the "enforcement first" policy that we operate under today. Under this revised approach, the federal government first looks to responsible parties -- either under a settlement agreement or, where settlement can't be reached, through the issuance of an administrative order-- to clean up a site, rather than undertaking the cleanup itself and then suing the responsible parties to recover the costs. This approach allows federal dollars to be focused more quickly and efficiently on sites where there are not viable responsible parties, and more effectively combines public and private resources to get cleanups started.
In addition to this "Enforcement First " policy, the EPA and the Department, over the last five to six years, adopted and implemented a series of administrative reforms that address stakeholder concerns about the fairness of the liability system. We have recognized the need to address some of the past problems with Superfund and have taken significant steps to reduce unwarranted litigation, to promote earlier settlements, and to optimize fairness concerns in the application of Superfund's liability scheme. By streamlining the process by which we resolve our claims at Superfund sites, we are streamlining the cleanups themselves and increasing the pace at which contaminated properties can be moved back into viable economic use -- the critical first step towards many brownfields development projects.
DeMinimis and De Micromis Settlements
One of the most important of these reforms involves the Administration's efforts to get de minimis and de micromis parties settled out quickly. I am particularly pleased to tell you about the successes we have realized as a result of our de micromis policy. EPA guidance provides a definition of "de micromis", but basically, a de micromis party is someone whose contribution of waste at a site is truly small, and whose costs in hiring a lawyer, and negotiating a settlement, would dwarf any amount they could reasonably be expected to contribute to cleanup costs. By contrast, a de minimis party is one whose contribution of waste is more significant than a de micromis party's, but less than a "major" party's, and from whom we would seek a cash settlement, rather than performance of work. Many of our de minimis settlements, which generally involve a number of parties, have yielded $1 million or so in proceeds from the de minimis parties collectively. These are in turn proceeds that inure to the benefit of the major contributors, from whom we seek performance of work.
The biggest success we have seen as a result of our de micromis policy is the lack of harassing lawsuits currently being brought against these tiny contributors. In short, we have announced our willingness to settle de micromis parties out for $1, or in some instances, $0. This has deterred major parties from joining them in the first place.
For example, at the Petrochem/Ekotek Site in Utah, we knew that the parties we had sued had in turn sent a settlement demand letter to hundreds of de micromis parties, in which they threatened to add them to their contribution lawsuit if they did not accept that settlement. Because EPA did not know the names and addresses of all those parties, it took out advertisements in the Salt Lake City area in newspapers and on the radio urging the de micromis parties to refuse that offer. The United States also sought, and received, a hearing before the federal District Court judge, and argued that the settlement demand was inappropriate. As a result, the PRP Committee agreed to withdraw their demand against the de micromis parties.
In addition, we have taken steps to discourage the joinder of de micromis parties in the first instance. For example, a decree involving the Bypass 601 Superfund Site, in U.S. v. AT&T, et al., No. 2: 94CV00438 (M.D.N.C.) (1/25/95), a former battery recycling facility in North Carolina, confers the full benefits of a CERCLA § 122(g) settlement to some 2400 parties who contributed less than 319 pounds of lead-bearing materials, but imposes no payment obligation upon them. Rather, the decree requires that the significant contributors, i.e., the owner/operator defendants and 450 large-volume generator defendants, pay EPA's past costs ($4 million), implement a remedy estimated to cost between $40.5 and $100 million, and agree not to assert any claims at all against persons meeting de micromis criteria whether or not those persons are parties to the decree.
We think that our promise to protect de micromis parties is being taken seriously by the regulated community, and that is why we think we simply aren't seeing these parties joined any more in litigation. Moreover, just this past summer, in the Keystone case, over the objection of several of the main owner/operator and generator defendants, Chief Judge Sylvia Rambo entered 200 proposed de micromis settlements, finding that they were fair, reasonable and in accordance with CERCLA's objective. We have placed a priority on achieving quick, efficient resolutions of the liability of small volume contributors to protect these contributors from burdensome contribution litigation. Through model settlement decrees and guidances, I believe the United States has been quite successful at getting small-volume contributors, who often cannot readily bear the transaction costs of lengthy multi-party litigation, out of the system quickly. As of a year ago, we and EPA had achieved over 430 settlements with over 21,000 small volume contributors, protecting these parties from expensive private party litigation. Nearly 2/3 of these de minimis settlements were reached in the last four years.
Orphan Share Policy
The Department exercises its enforcement discretion to compromise cases in order to reach more equitable settlements with responsible parties. Through this enforcement discretion we have moved federal dollars into promoting cleanups.
We also cooperate with EPA in implementing the orphan share policy, another reform that has increased the fairness of Superfund settlements through the use of orphan share compensation. At many Superfund sites, parties that individually or collectively were responsible for a share of the waste disposed at a site may no longer exist or are bankrupt. Remaining viable parties have longed claimed that it is unfair to require them to pay for the share of site costs that could be attributed to such "orphan" shares. In response, EPA and the Department developed the "orphan share" policy, under which the U.S. can compensate settling parties for a portion of the "orphan share." This share will be recognized primarily through a compromise of past costs or a reduction of future oversight costs. EPA issued its Interim Guidance on Orphan Share Compensation in June 1996 and since then the Department has moved aggressively to put this concept into practice. Over the last 4 years, the U.S. has offered orphan share compensation of over $175 million at 98 sites to responsible parties willing to negotiate long-term cleanup settlements.
Municipal Settlement Policy
This policy provides for a fairer and more efficient basis for settling with municipalities which are liable under Superfund. The municipal settlement policy reflects the fact that municipal waste typically is not as toxic as industrial waste. Moreover, municipalities often lack sufficient resources to contribute to the costs of expensive cleanups. The policy establishes a formula for calculating a municipality's share of response costs at a site that is based on the typical costs for cleaning up the waste found in a municipal solid waste landfill (as compared to hazardous wastes.) This new policy has enabled us to streamline the settlement process and protect municipalities, and generators and transporters of municipal solid waste, from expensive transactional costs, and has resulted in faster cleanups at sites where there is a significant municipal share. The U.S. has entered into a number of successful settlements on the basis of the municipal settlement policy. Moreover, we believe the policy has been successful in promoting several private party settlements by providing a fair methodology by which to determine the share of municipal solid waste parties.
Other administrative reforms that have also lead to faster, fairer, and more efficient settlements include the use of mixed work/mixed funding agreements, settlements that take into consideration a party's "ability-to-pay," settlements that "carve-out" certain costs or parts of the remedy, often to account for some share of site costs attributable to non-settling parties, and the use of interest-bearing special accounts. Under the last of these, the U.S. will agree to hold monies recovered in settlement in such accounts for later Superfund cleanup. Through 1999, the U.S. has collected and placed in interest bearing accounts over $486 million in 133 separate accounts. These accounts have generated over $85 million in interest. This reform makes more monies available for actual cleanup and can be an important factor in reaching a successful settlement. These accounts ensure greater fairness in the settlement process since they can place monies recovered from parties that simply "cash-out" their liability at a site into an account for later use by parties that are performing the cleanup work.
EPA and DOJ also are doing a much better job of making sure that all non-de minimis responsible parties involved at a site are identified and pursued by the government. Complaints were often made in the early days of the Superfund program that the government chose to pursue only a handful of "deep pockets" at a site, leaving these parties with the responsibility to find and pursue in contribution actions other parties responsible at the site. It is the government's policy to undertake a thorough PRP search at every site and to make sure that as many of those parties as possible participate in settlement at the site so as to spread the burden of site cleanup among all parties.
Another important way the Department ensures fairness in the enforcement process -- and which reinforces the importance of settlement -- is by actively pursuing those parties that choose not to settle. Indeed, in a recent Third Circuit decision in U.S. v. Occidental Chem. Corp. 200 F.3d 143 (3rd Cir. 1999), the court upheld our authority to enforce administrative orders issued to non-settling parties that direct them to participate in site work being done by other parties. This decision has strengthened our ability to ensure greater fairness at Superfund sites. For example, at the Lipari Superfund site located in New Jersey, Owens-Illinois choose not to join the settlement the U.S. reached with numerous site parties and instead pursued years of litigation. Through litigation, Owens was required to pay $13.3 million for site cleanup costs. I am not speaking out of school when I say that the government would have initially settled for much less than this. By refusing to cooperate, Owens-Illinois incurred substantially higher costs than it would have paid if it had agreed to take responsibility for its actions years earlier.
Alternative Dispute Resolution
Another way that the Department has sought to make the Superfund enforcement process less time-consuming and costly is through the use of alternative dispute resolution or ADR. The Department of Justice is committed to the use of ADR to assist in appropriate and efficient resolution of cases and issues. ADR can be a useful tool in avoiding years of potential litigation and focus efforts on protecting public health and the environment, rather than on protracted litigation. We have found ADR can be particularly helpful in complex multi-party CERCLA cost-recovery actions, which require enormous time and resources and demand immediate steps to address environmental contamination.
ADR has led to many success stories in CERCLA cases, including cases which involved much more than simple cost recovery issues. An example is the Landfill & Resource Recovery Superfund Site, located in Rhode island. The parties at the site were many and varied - the United States, the State of Rhode Island, four owners/operators of the Site, twelve generators and transporters of hazardous substances disposed of at the Site, and two "ability to pay" parties. And the issues were complex, involving claims under section 107 of the CERCLA for reimbursement of past and future response costs, implementation of response actions and civil penalties for failure to comply with a unilateral administrative order ("UAO") issued under Section 106 of the Act. Mediation enabled us to negotiate a settlement among these parties that resolved all outstanding issues much more quickly than might otherwise have occurred, saved the parties from costly transaction expenses, and reimbursed the government nearly all expected Site costs.
The parties began negotiations under the First Circuit's Court of Appeals Mediation Program (CAMP) and ultimately reached a settlement through the assistance of U.S. District Court Judge Mazzone. The consent decree resolved the United States' complaint, a state court action related to the Site, and an appeal in the First Circuit challenging an earlier de minimis settlement. This settlement determined a reasonable settlement payment for the "ability to pay" parties, and obligated the remaining settling parties to perform operation and maintenance of the remedial action and to pay past and future oversight costs, as well as a civil penalty of $400,000 for noncompliance with the UAO. It also resolved natural resource damage claims of the Department of the Interior and incorporated a supplemental environmental project in the amount of $525,000 to purchase wetlands or related property within the Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor. When combined with previous settlement recoveries for this site, and the performance of the remedial action by the settlers, this mediated settlement will result in a recovery of 97% of expected Site costs.
Just this month we entered into a terrific settlement for the Auburn Road Landfill Superfund Site in Londonderry, N.H. that was achieved through a very successful voluntary mediation. United States and the State of New Hampshire v. Exxon Corporation, et al. (D. N.H.) On March 10, 2000, an RD/RA Consent Decree was entered that resolves the government's claims against four defendants and twenty-seven third-party defendants. Under the proposed Decree, the settlers have agreed to perform the remedy and to reimburse the U.S. for its past ($5.84 million) and future oversight costs. The remedy for the site involved operation and maintenance of the landfill cap, monitoring of ground water, surface water and sediments, and the performance of any active remediation of ground water, surface water and sediments that EPA may select in the future.
In addition to resolving the U.S.'s claims, the settling defendants agreed to reimburse the State for a portion of its past response costs and to reimburse the Town of Londonderry, New Hampshire over $1.7 million in partial reimbursement of the Town's response costs for constructing the landfill cap. Also, the owner of the Site agreed to convey to the Town of Londonderry over 100 acres of property at and around the Site for beneficial reuse. Finally, the defendants will collectively pay $125,000 in penalties, and will perform a supplemental environmental project. This SEP is a dry paint system that eliminates hazardous paint wastes, which was the basis for their generator liability, and is valued at over $700,000. These great results were achieved much more quickly and at lower costs to the parties involved through the mediation process.
U.S. v. Allied Signal et al. (D. N.J.), and its companion contribution action Rollins Environmental v. United States (D. N.J.) provide another good example of the use of ADR in complex, multi-party Superfund litigation to resolve cost recovery and contribution litigation concerning the BROS Superfund Site in Logan Township, New Jersey. That Site, long considered one of the most technically challenging sites under the Superfund program, was used as a waste oil collection facility and chemical waste storage site for three decades. When it closed in the late 1970s, millions of gallons of waste oil and other dangerous pollutants were left at the site, much of it in a thirteen-acre lagoon -- a "toxic soup" of waste material. Spills and leaks from the facility had also contaminated the site's groundwater and adjacent wetlands. Mediation resulted in settlement among 80 private parties and several state and federal agencies.
That settlement, conservatively valued at $221.5 million and one of the largest ever under CERCLA, covers about 70% of the cleanup costs and requires the private companies to complete the remaining cleanup of the site's groundwater and wetlands. The settlement is the result of more than two years of complex negotiations between the federal government, the State, and settling parties. It reflects Superfund reform policies that allow EPA to share in the cleanup costs when some of the responsible private parties are defunct or financially insolvent. Our commitment to ADR led to settlement in record time for a case of this magnitude.
ADR enables parties to create an environment to explore creative solutions that may not be obtainable through the judicial process. The potential for creativity and concomitant flexibility is invaluable in resolving the difficult problems sometimes posed in CERCLA cases.
What has been the result of all of these administrative reforms? They allow us to reach settlement more quickly on terms that are considered more fair to responsible parties. This in turn allows us to proceed more quickly to cleaning up sites -- the fundamental purpose of the Superfund -- so as to ensure protection of human health and the environment. And faster cleanups mean that these contaminated properties are available for economic development sooner.
Over 91% of sites on the National Priorities List (1266 of 1370 sites) either have been cleaned up (41%) or have cleanup construction under way. Moreover, the pace of cleanups has accelerated sharply in the last decade. We have gone from 61 sites being cleaned up over the first ten years of the program to approximately 670 sites at which cleanup construction is now complete. And we are getting sites cleaned up faster. In the last 4 years, we've finished cleaning up more sites than in the previous 14. Through enforcing the Superfund law, the Justice Department has played a critical role in obtaining these cleanups. The "Enforcement First" policy has lead to a dramatic shift in the performance of Superfund cleanups by private responsible parties. Today 70% of all cleanups are being conducted by private parties (as compared to 2/3 being conducted by the federal government in the early years of the program..) In 1999, we obtained a record amount of $387.3 million in reimbursed federal response costs. These numbers show that the Superfund program is working in a cost-effective manner at getting sites cleaned up. The Department remains committed to implementing fully the administrative reforms that have made these results possible and in refining and improving these reforms where necessary.
In addition to promoting cleanups through litigation and associated negotiations, the Department also plays a significant role in assisting EPA in promoting brownfields development. The Department does this in a number of ways. It does this first and foremost by ensuring cleanup of Superfund sites, many of which have been redeveloped following cleanup and returned to productive use, as discussed below. The Department also promotes brownfields redevelopment through its enforcement of other environmental statutes and its use of creative settlement mechanisms, such as supplemental environmental projects, to transform blighted properties. The Department further supports brownfields development by entering into administrative settlements termed "Prospective Purchaser Agreements" or "PPAs."
Prospective Purchaser Agreements or "PPAs"
PPAs can provide a prospective purchaser with greater certainty regarding the federal liability that might be acquired in buying the property. At sites where there is already federal involvement, a PPA can provide a buyer with protection from Superfund liability for existing contamination caused by previous property owners. PPAs of course do not provide protection for prospective purchasers if they create new contamination or make existing site conditions worse. Further, in return for the government's promise not to sue them, prospective purchasers may agree to pay for -- or perform -- some of the response actions at a site. Within the context of EPA's policy on PPAs, we try to be flexible as to what consideration will suffice, taking into account the value that the government's past and future cleanup will add to the purchaser's property. Moreover, in deciding whether to enter into a PPA we will take into account benefits that the community might receive through redevelopment and job creation. By providing reassurance to buyers of contaminated lands regarding their liability, PPAs have significantly contributed to redevelopment.
It is the responsibility of the Department, exercising the Attorney General's authority to compromise claims in litigation, to enter into PPAs and, as the Assistant Attorney General for the Environment and Natural Resources Division, I am the person who ultimately signs PPAs on behalf of the Department.
To ensure consistency and to streamline the process of issuing PPAs, we have worked with EPA to develop a model PPA setting forth standard language and provisions to be included in such agreements. This model was issued with EPA's revised guidance on PPAs in July 1995 (60 Federal Register 34,792). From 1989, when we issued the first PPA, through today the Department has approved 152 PPAs. More than 125 of these have been approved in the last five years alone, and even more are in the works. When EPA did a survey last year, the Agency found that redevelopment projects related to PPAs cover over 1200 acres, have resulted in over 1500 short-term jobs, and have created over 1700 permanent jobs. And those figures don't reflect the redevelopment that's occurring on adjacent properties around the country.
One PPA success story that happened just this summer was in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia about sixty miles west of Washington, D.C. As part of a consent decree to resolve a case that had been litigated for years, FMC Corporation agreed to take over cleanup of the rest of the 440-acre Avtex Fibers Superfund site (including removing aboveground and underground storage tanks, hazardous substances, and demolition debris) consistent with redevelopment plans by the Town of Front Royal and Warren County. One of the new uses of the site will be soccer fields, which when completed will be the first project sponsored by the U.S. Soccer Foundation on a Superfund site. The PPA that helped to make this consent decree possible will also help to put dollars into a cleanup in the community, rather than a case in a courtroom.
Another recent PPA example was at the Murray Smelter Site, in Murray, Utah. The site is located right across the street from City Hall. This was the location of one of the nation's largest lead and arsenic smelters, which was closed in the 1940s. Once the smelter closed, the site was taken over by light industry and warehouses. Parts of the facility served as a dumping ground for cement slabs. Under our settlement, ASARCO, the company that owned and operated the smelters, will perform all the remedial action work. In connection with the consent decree, we entered into a PPA with a developer that contains options to purchase the property. The development will include a hospital, a large movie theater complex, and associated retail establishments. This type of development is likely to help revitalize the City by increasing employment and the city's tax base. And it almost certainly will improve the view from City Hall!
There are numerous other great examples of how PPAs have turned around brownfields sites. For example, at the Publicker Superfund site located on the west bank of the Delaware River in Philadelphia, the U.S. entered into a PPA with Holt Cargo systems, Inc. and several related entities interested in purchasing and redeveloping this site without incurring Superfund liability for past disposal activities. The original owner/operators used this site to manufacture whiskey, industrial alcohol, dry ice, and other chemicals for many years. After Publicker ceased manufacturing operations, the site fell into decay and was used for storage of hazardous chemicals. EPA listed the site on the NPL and completed the necessary cleanup at a cost of $20 million. Under the PPA with Holt and others, Holt paid $2.07 million to the U.S. and $230,000 to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in partial reimbursement of the cleanup costs. In determining the amount of this payment, the U.S. took into consideration the amount it could expect to recover from liens on the property. The property was particularly desirable for expansion of Holt's shipping business because it is located on the river-front in Philadelphia with ready access to train and truck transportation. As a direct result of the PPA, a derelict urban wreck has become an economically productive port facility used for transportation and distribution of produce and freight.
PPAs have also been entered into for smaller properties. At the Middlefiled-Ellis-Whisman ("MEW") Superfund site, located in City of Mountain View, California, the U.S. has entered into separate PPAs with several different entities for different parcels of this prior manufacturing site. The existing Superfund site is being cleaned up pursuant to administrative orders issued to the site owners and operators. In two recent PPAs related to this site, one covering a 10 acre parcel of the site, and one covering 1.17 acres, the U.S. agreed to release purchasers of these parcels from Superfund liability for past contamination in exchange for a payment of $75,000 each, and a commitment to make land available for the soil and groundwater treatment remedy (in the first agreement), and a commitment to provide access to ensure that existing cleanup activities are undertaken (in the second agreement.) The $75,000 payments will compensate EPA for administrative costs and provide monies to a regional cleanup effort. Entering into these PPAs will allow the purchasers to build office buildings on these parcels that will return these blighted properties to productive use and create more than 100 jobs for the local community.
The Administration has also taken a number of steps administratively to work with states regarding the treatment of sites they are handling under their programs. For example, EPA has a guidance stating that when certain sites are being cleaned up under state authority, it will defer listing them on the National Priorities List. (Guidance on Deferral of NPL Listing Determinations While States Oversee Response Actions (May 3, 1995).) Further, EPA has signed memoranda of understanding (MOUs) with twelve states (and is negotiating with 8 more states) governing voluntary cleanups done under those states' laws. EPA has stated that generally it will not anticipate doing removal or remedial actions at the typically low-risk sites covered by those MOUs. Under all these policies, federal enforcement is preserved in the event of an imminent and substantial endangerment to human health and the environment. My understanding is that states with MOUs have been quite satisfied about the level of assurance regarding anticipated federal action. These MOUs also have served the valuable function of keeping state and federal officials better informed regarding each others' site cleanup plans.
Legislation to reauthorize the federal Superfund program has been proposed in Congress for several years, but has not been enacted. In the meantime, through administrative reforms, we have successfully moved the program forward and gotten sites cleaned up. The administrative reforms that EPA and DOJ have implemented have addressed many of the concerns about the program and have led to overall improvement in the program. Given the present state of the program, comprehensive reform legislation on Superfund is no longer needed, and in fact is highly likely to return the program to litigation and to delay further cleanup and undermine the progress we have achieved.
There remains a public perception that legislative change could facilitate and expedite brownfields redevelopment. Brownfields are parcels of land, most often located in urban areas, that contain abandoned or under-used contaminated commercial or industrial facilities, the expansion or redevelopment of which is complicated by the presence of hazardous substances. Cleaning up these parcels and returning them to productive use provides numerous benefits to the community; it improves the health of surrounding communities, as well as the appearance and economic well-being of these communities since such projects bring new vitality and jobs to the areas developed. Brownfields development also protects undeveloped property and green space from the pressures of development .
Because of the importance of brownfields redevelopment to the environmental and economic well-being of cities, we have taken a number of steps to encourage brownfields redevelopment. Targeted federal legislation may encourage such redevelopment even further. To that end, we urge Congress to continue funding the Administration's successful brownfields program so that more grants and loans can be made available to local communities all across the country. We also support legislation that has all of the following targeted and specific elements. These are:
- liability relief for qualified prospective purchasers of contaminated property, innocent landowners, and contiguous property owners.
- ensuring that state cleanup programs are well qualified -- the programs must provide notice and adequate opportunity for public involvement in cleanup decisions, they must contain standards that protect human health and the environment and ensure completion of the cleanups, and they must have adequate resources to implement and enforce their programs.
- guaranteeing federal authority to respond to circumstances that may present an imminent and substantial endangerment to human health or the environment is preserved.
Thank you for this opportunity to speak to this committee.