EPA History: Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act

by Lee M. Thomas
[EPA statement - October 17, 1986]

I am pleased the President has signed the Superfund reauthorization. However, his decision was not an easy one.

The President has wanted to maintain a strong and effective cleanup effort, one financed largely by the polluters themselves. Yet the final compromise passed by Congress includes a new broad-based tax that does not reflect the "polluter pays" principle.

Overall, however, the new Superfund law is consistent with the cleanup program that has been put in place by EPA. It incorporates many of the key provisions recommended by the Administration nearly two years ago.

This new law will enable EPA to quickly get back to the vital task of cleaning up the nation's worst hazardous waste dumps.

Office of the Press Secretary
(Grand Forks, North Dakota)
For Immediate Release
October 17, 1986


I have today signed the reauthorization legislation of the Superfund program. My overriding concern has been the continuation of our progress to cleanup hazardous waste sites that endanger the health and safety of our citizens. All Americans can expect no less from their government.

While I approve of the programmatic changes in the Superfund legislation, I have expressed concerns in the past regarding the level of funding and the funding mechanism itself.

I am assured by the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency that the Agency will spend only what is necessary to accomplish the objectives of the program, and no more.

I have always been opposed to any broad-based tax as a new revenue source for Superfund. Therefore, I have carefully studied the taxing provisions of the current Superfund legislation. First, it is not a general tax on all American businesses, but affects only larger corporations that have to pay the alternative minimum tax--that is, corporations who, because of special deductions, exemptions, etc, do not pay the normal tax rate which under the tax reform act will be 34%. Additionally, this tax applies only to corporations with an alternative minimum tax of $2 million and over, and this tax is deductible from regular taxable income.

Moreover, this environmental tax is earmarked only for Superfund and goes into a trust fund set up for that purpose alone. It is not a tax that can be used for general revenue purposes.

I have been assured by Senator Dole, Senator Stafford and forty-eight other Senators that they will support my vetoing of either a general purpose broad-based tax, or an increase in the amount of this special purpose tax to provide funding for the Superfund program.

It is important that the federal government continue the work of environmental cleanup in a manner consistent with our overall objectives. I believe that this legislation, although at some variance with our original proposals, meets these objectives.