Infrastructure Bill May Inject New Life into Superfund Program
In recent years, EPA’s administration of the federal Superfund program has remained largely consistent across both Republican and Democratic administrations. With the passage of the infrastructure bill in November 2021, however, the “Superfund tax” on the production of certain industrial chemicals was reinstated. This change in law may drive more significant changes to the federal Superfund program than policy shifts that followed changes in administrations.
For example, in December EPA announced that it would use the first $1 billion from this new revenue source to help fund remediation at 49 previously unfunded Superfund sites as well as to “accelerate” cleanup at other priority sites across the country. Under the Biden Administration, EPA separately has made clear, including in its July 1, 2021 memorandum to all regional offices, that environmental justice will be a major driver in determining its CERCLA and RCRA enforcement priorities. As funds from the new bill continue to flow to EPA, expect legal and technical activity at new and existing sites to increase, with a particular focus on those sites in or around communities where environmental justice may be a factor.