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Readers’ Letters

Superfund money,

missions cut back

The response by the Environmental Protection Agency's Marianne Lamont Horinko to Lois Gibbs' and Rhett Lawrence's commentary on Superfund just does not make sense (Superfund continues to do its job, Insight, Jan. 13).

Horinko tries to make us believe that even though the 'polluter pays' Superfund fee was not reauthorized by Congress in 1995, and the fund has declined to near zero, toxic cleanups are moving along just fine.

The truth is that Superfund cleanups have declined from an average of more than 80 a year during the Clinton administration to about 40 a year under Bush. Superfund appropriations in the '90s averaged $1.7 billion per year, while under Bush they have declined to an average $1.3 billion per year. That $400 million per year can mean the difference of many, many successful cleanups Ñ and the protection they will provide our communities.

The real solution to the Superfund cleanup problem is not to seek additional support from the taxpayer Ñ taking money away from other valuable programs Ñ but to reauthorize the Superfund polluter-pays fee so that the industries that have created the mess in the first place take responsibility for cleaning it up.

Brandi Romines

Southeast Portland

Superfund fees are

fair and effective

The Environmental Protection Agency's response to the Superfund shortfall is Ñ sadly Ñ what we have come to expect from the Bush administration: more double talk about its failure to clean up toxic messes, leaving a legacy of shame for our children to pay for.

Instead of trying to protect its corporate buddies from fair 'polluter pays' fees, the Bush administration should recognize that the best way to ensure the cleanup of toxic messes such as the Portland harbor is to reauthorize the tax on polluting industries. The Superfund fee has proved to be a fair and efficient way to pay for the cleanup of sites like McCormick and Baxter, which threaten the health of our communities but have no responsible party available to pay for the work.

I hope both our senators can work together this session to re-instate the Superfund fee so that we can guarantee our children a legacy of clean and safe air and water. Though Sen. Gordon Smith has previously opposed reauthorizing the fee, it's time for him to take a stand to protect our communities and our wallets.

Juan Martinez

Southeast Portland

EPA lets polluters

shirk cleanup duty

The Bush administration is trying to mislead the public about the dismal state of the Superfund program. EPA Assistant Administrator Marianne Horinko's commentary tries to cover up the fact that toxic cleanup costs have shifted from a 'polluter pays' system to a 'let our kids pay' system, protecting Bush's corporate supporters.

Under Superfund, corporate polluters are held accountable for cleaning up their toxic messes. Thirty percent of the Superfund cleanups are at sites where the responsible parties cannot be found. Until recently, the costs were covered by a polluter-pays fee paid be polluting industries. This is as it should be.

Since 1995, when the Newt Gingrich Congress refused to renew the Superfund fee, a large portion of these costs has gradually been shifted to general fund taxes. Corporate toxic cleanups now compete with education and health care for scarce dollars in Bush's record deficit budgets.

Ms. Horinko should come clean with the American public. Unless Congress and the president work together to reauthorize the Superfund polluter-pays fee this session, taxpayers will be forced to pay for a larger portion of the toxic cleanups Ñ or force our children to live with a dangerous toxic legacy for years to come.

Chris Dearth

National Environmental Trust

Southwest Portland