House Considers Reauthorizing Industry Superfund Taxes
Several bills have recently been introduced in Congress that would reinstate all or part of the Superfund industry taxes that expired at the end of 1995. Currently before various House committees, the bills would restore the now-depleted Superfund Trust Fund, the federal fund established in 1980 to clean up abandoned contaminated sites. The most recent bill, introduced in December 2005 by Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-N.Y.), would reauthorize excise taxes on the petroleum and chemical industries, as well as an environmental corporate income tax levied on companies with annual profits in excess of $2 million. Another bill, sponsored by Rep. Sherwood Boehlert (R-N.Y.), would reinstate only the general corporate environmental tax. Although similar "polluter pays" proposals were defeated in past congressional sessions, the ever-increasing funding shortfalls for the Superfund program may prompt a different result this time around. Since 2004, Superfund cleanups have been funded wholly from general tax revenues, and the burden borne by taxpayers has climbed to more than $1 billion per year.