Office of the Vice President

For Immediate Release May 18, 1998


Up To 171 Clean Ups In Jeopardy

Washington, DC -- Urging Republicans to stop holding communities hostage to polluters' demands, Vice President Gore today called on Congress to approve the money needed to clean up 171 Superfund sites and announced that the Administration is sending Congress a budget amendment to fully restore the funds.

Last year, Congress passed a $650 million cleanup fund increase in advance for fiscal 1999 -- but only on the condition that a Superfund reauthorization bill be signed into law by May 15. Due to the loss of these funds, cleanup at up to 51 sites will be delayed, and cleanup at up to 120 Superfund sites will not begin, according to a list released today by the Environmental Protection Agency.

"I am here today to serve notice: we will not allow the Republicans to sacrifice the public health to let a handful of polluters off the hook," Vice President Gore said. "Today, our administration is sending Congress an amendment to restore every dime of the environmental clean-up funds that Republicans have held hostage."

"When it comes to cleaning up toxic waste, now is the time to clean up your act," the Vice President added. "We will not allow your special-interest loopholes. We need to strengthen our families and communities, not hold them back."

The Administration worked in good faith to meet the May 15 deadline, proposing reforms to strengthen the Superfund law, cut costly litigation, and make sure that those responsible for contamination clean it up. Instead, Congress wanted to weaken cleanup standards, compromise the "polluter pays" principle, and reopen litigation in cleanup cases that were already settled.

Today's call for Superfund clean-up is an effort to meet President Clinton's pledge to clean-up two-thirds of the most serious sites that threaten our communities by 2001.

President Clinton and Vice President Gore have made tremendous progress in revamping the Superfund program to speed up toxic waste cleanups. More than twice as many clean-ups were completed in the past five years as in the preceding 12.

The Administration has made cleaning up these Superfund sites a top priority because many of these toxic waste sites pose serious health and environmental risks to surrounding communities. One in four Americans, including 10 million children below the age of 12, live within four miles of a Superfund site. In addition, contaminated, undeveloped land costs communities jobs, tax revenue and economic growth.

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