Letter to the Speaker of the House and the President of the Senate Transmitting Proposed Superfund Reauthorization Legislation

February 22, 1985

Dear Mr. Speaker: (Dear Mr. President:)

I am pleased to send you proposed legislation of critical importance to every American, the Administration's proposal for improving the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (better known as Superfund) and for extending the taxing authorities which support it, now due to expire on September 30, 1985.

My Administration has been moving forcefully to implement the Superfund program, expanding the national priorities list from the statutorily mandated minimum of 400 sites to 756 sites, greatly augmenting the money available for the program, and, most importantly, beginning the cleanup process at an ever increasing number of sites. The danger to public health and the environment presented by releases and threatened releases of hazardous substances from inactive waste sites persists, however, and we must not lose the momentum we have achieved.

The Administration's proposed legislation will more than triple the size of the existing program, from $1.6 billion to $5.3 billion. In order to fund this three-fold increase, we are requesting the Congress to extend for another five years the existing tax imposed on the manufacture of certain chemicals and to enact a fee, which will go into the dedicated trust fund, on the disposal and treatment of hazardous waste. These taxes and fees will raise approximately $1 billion per year over the next five years, which should provide adequate, stable, and equitable financing for the program. I strongly believe that funds used to pay for the program should be generated entirely through these dedicated sources, not the general treasury.

In addition to the expansion of the Superfund, we are requesting other authorities which will allow us to build on our momentum and will strengthen our ability to respond to the health and environmental threats emanating from abandoned hazardous waste sites. These authorities will allow us to:

d

continue a comprehensive but focused Federal response program;

d

strengthen our existing enforcement tools to ensure that responsible parties undertake or pay the costs of cleanup;

d

enhance the Federal-State partnership needed for effective response action; and

d

actively involve citizens in the cleanup decisions that will affect them.

To help ensure prompt enactment of responsible legislation, I have instructed Lee Thomas, Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, to make reauthorization of this important legislation his highest priority.

Sincerely,

Ronald Reagan

Note: Identical letters were sent to Thomas P. O'Neill, Speaker of the House of Representatives, and George Bush, President of the Senate. A copy of the proposed legislation and a section-by-section analysis was made available by the Office of the Press Secretary.