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National Advisory Council for Environmental Policy and Technology (NACEPT), Washington, D.C.

Remarks for Governor Christine Todd Whitman
Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
at the
National Advisory Council for Environmental Policy and Technology (NACEPT) Superfund Subcommittee Meeting
Washington, D.C.

January 7, 2003

Thank you Marianne (Horinko) for that introduction. It = s a pleasure to be with all of you this morning and to open up the new year with a discussion about our work in the months ahead to secure the future of the Superfund program.

I want to thank all of the Subcommittee Members for your dedication and willingness to lend your time and expertise to our efforts at EPA as we chart the future direction for a program that has served our nation = s communities and environment so well.

Over the past two decades, Superfund has made tremendous strides by cleaning up more than 800 sites and converting some of the most dangerous hazardous waste sites into areas of productive use for the community. These efforts, in turn, have helped protect the health of thousands of Americans in communities all across our country.

There is no denying the success and importance of the Superfund program. However, as Superfund enters its third decade, it = s imperative that we evaluate the program in light of the environmental resources we possess and the environmental challenges we face at this time.

When Superfund was created, it was the only program available to address the clean up of hazardous waste sites. Today, there is a wide spectrum of programs B from brownfields to voluntary state clean-up plans B dedicated to the same purpose as Superfund. Though Superfund has been an effective tool, it is no longer the only tool, and an important part of your work is determining how we should best integrate Superfund with other clean up efforts.

When you began your deliberations on this issue last June, you were asked to target three key aspects of the Superfund program. First, addressing the role of the National Priorities List, and helping to determine how to set priorities that take into account human health, the environment, and available resources.

Second, we are still seeking your input on the best methods to address mega sites. Due to the complex nature and technical difficulties of these sites, they require tremendous resources and lengthy time frames to complete clean up. We need your help in determining how those resources can be allocated most effectively to target the greatest threats to human health posed by these sites.

Finally, in the area of measuring program performance, we need to make sure that not only are we keeping better track of our progress, but that we are communicating that progress to the communities and people we serve.

As you discuss these and other issues relating to the program over the next two days, keep in mind the importance this dialogue and your work has on the future of Superfund. And, of course, as we work to refine the program, some things will remain the same.

The Bush Administration embraces the principle that the A polluter pays, @ when it comes to cleaning up Superfund sites. The Superfund law puts the burden of paying for the cleanup of polluted sites where it belongs B on those responsible for creating the mess.

Through aggressive action by the EPA, more than 70 percent of all Superfund cleanups have been paid by the responsible parties. Only in those cases where such parties cannot be determined or have long-since gone out of business are appropriated monies used. This Administration will continue to make sure the polluter does indeed pay.

The vital nature of Superfund to our clean up efforts also remains the same, maintaining its integral role in economic revitalization, preservation of our environment, and protection of human health. Working together we can ensure the Superfund program is strengthened and that it = s future course is charted in the direction of healthy and thriving communities for this generation and those to come.

Thank you and I = m happy to answer any questions at this time.