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Superfund's Future: What Will It Cost?

Superfund's Future: What Will It Cost?

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One of the most contentious issues in the recent congressional debate about the reauthorization of Superfund concerns how much money EPA needs for its implementation in the years to come. To provide some guidance for this discussion, the U.S. Congress asked Resources for the Future (RFF) to conduct an independent study of the program's future costs. The results of this research are included in Superfund's Future.

In this important book, lead researchers Kate Probst and David Konisky provide estimatesof EPA's likely expenditures for Superfund for each fiscal year from 2000 to 2009. The authors estimate the costs for the cleanup of sites currently on the National Priorities List (NPL), the cleanup cost of sites to be added to the NPL, and the day-to-day cost of implementing the Superfund program. They also, as requested by Congress, address the issue of uncertainty in their cost estimates.

Much of the controversy about the cost of Superfund concerns questions as to whether the program is beginning to ramp down, whether this will translate into a decreasing need for federal funds, and, if so, when? The political backdrop is complex. Some seek a major overhaul and reauthorization of the statute, arguing that considerable cleanup still needs to bedone. Others oppose major changes, arguing that cleanup is almost complete. Probst and Konisky discuss these different perspectives in light of the policy choices most likely to have a dramatic effect on future costs of the program. In so doing, they have produced a book that will be an essential reference for all participants in the Superfund debate.