Rep. Heffernan: Protect Funding to Clean Superfund Sites

The following letter to the editor appeared in the August 13 edition of the (Wilmington) News Jounal.

Recently, news circulated that the EPA is investigating whether to add a polluted plume of groundwater in Newark to its list of Superfund sites. What might surprise many is that Delaware has had more than 20 Superfund sites throughout the state.

That’s why news that the Trump Administration wants to cut the Superfund program by 30 percent should alarm every Delawarean, regardless of political persuasion. Experts predict that such a cut would delay cleanup at many toxic sites, and that could include some in the First State. This drastic cut would come on top of a gradual slashing of Superfund appropriations, from $2 billion in 1999 to $1.1 billion in 2013.

The EPA is shrouding this gutting of the Superfund program with calls to “streamline” the process, using outside parties to monitor conditions and reassess groundwater cleanup goals, and provide polluters incentives to clean sites more quickly.

As an environmental toxicologist, I know what goes into cleaning up polluted sites and how intricate and involved that process is. I agree we should look to cut unnecessary expenses and be more cost-effective, but a draconian 30-percent cut would delay the remediation of these polluted sites, increasing risks to human health and the environment in the name of saving a few dollars.

Congress must fully fund the Superfund program so that any remediation needed for these sites takes place. The program ensures that our communities are safe and healthy spaces where our families can grow. The environmental cleanup means more jobs, which will be lost if the federal government doesn’t fund the program.

We should be forward-thinking and thoughtful in our actions so they make improvements to the program, not blindly cut resources without proper vetting.

 

Debra Heffernan
State Representative
6th District