Rep. Wayne Owens, R-Utah, says the Environmental Protection Agency spends too much time worrying about whom to sue to pay for cleanup of hazardous wastes and not enough time actually cleaning them.
So he introduced a bill to make changes. Although Congress has adjourned, he hopes the bill will help focus discussion as Congress prepares next year to debate reauthorizing the Superfund cleanup program.The bill is similar, in part, to a bill that Sen. Jake Garn, R-Utah, introduced earlier this year to exempt banks and savings institutions that become owners of hazardous waste properties innocently through foreclosure from paying for the cleanup cost. Garn worried it is driving up the cost of the S&L bailout.
Garn is still hoping that bill can still be attached to another bill before Congress adjourns.
Owens' bill would go further to also try to streamline EPA evaluations of waste sites and speed up the cleanup process.
"Investigations on the ground are designed for litigation, sometimes at the expense of an expeditious and permanent remedial action," Owens said.
He added that mortgage holders are also often sued to pay for clean-up costs - even if they did not create it or have reason to suspect it - "just because they have the money."