The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is urging the U.S. Congress to reinstate a pollution tax on heavy polluter industries in order to fund the agency’s “Superfund program”. This program works to clean up the nation’s worst uncontrolled and abandoned hazardous waste sites that are damaging the environment and threatening human health.
Up until 1995, heavy polluters like oil, gas and chemical companies, were required to pay a “polluters tax” to clean up the messes they made at waste sites all across the country. But this tax requirement expired at the end of 1995, leaving taxpayers responsible for more than $1 billion a year in cleanup costs since that time.
Because these heavy polluters are at least partially responsible for the horrendous waste sites that are contaminating the environment and threatening the health of both animals and humans, the EPA is petitioning Congress to bring back the tax in order to hold these polluters responsible.
“Recent EPA estimates indicate that as much as 90 percent of hazardous wastes continue to be improperly discarded, in some cases in the immediate vicinity of populated areas,” explains Samuel S. Epstein, M.D., in his book The Politics of Cancer Revisited. Many of this waste comes from these three industries.
And more often than not, the waste sites identified by the Superfund program have been abandoned, and the specific companies responsible for the damage cannot be found. So by taxing the industries that are responsible for the damage, the EPA aims to improve overall stewardship of the environment by the worst polluting industries.
“Between the taxpayers and those industries that produce substances that contaminate these sites, the administration believes those parties [industries] should pay for these orphan sites,” explained Mathy Stanislaus, coordinator of the Superfund program, in a CNN article.
Both the American Petroleum Institute and the American Chemistry Council, two trade groups representing the polluters, deny that their industries are responsible for the pollution. They say that a reinstatement of the pollution tax will hurt their ability to compete in the global market.