Solving Pollution Caused By Solvents Requires A Solvent Superfund | Editorial

Hush! Don’t tell Republicans that, but there is a tax hike in bipartisan federal infrastructure legislation that some members of their party have approved.

The “deal” reinstates the tax, or fees, that producers of basic chemicals had to pay to ensure that the Superfund’s “orphan” contaminated sites are cleaned up. The GOPers who signed the package have to be okay with that, and that’s a good thing.

In fact, it’s a slap in the face for the father of Superfund legislation, former Congressman and New Jersey Governor Jim Florio, and his home state with his legacy of toxic waste disposal, that the count National Superfund is fundamentally empty. According to the program and the website of the public radio “Marketplace”, the federal government stopped collecting the royalties when they expired in 1995. Congress and the presidents of the two parties never found sufficient will for them. reinstate.

So far – as long as that excise tax stays in the Infrastructure Bill, Part 1, or whatever name President Joe Biden and Democrats in Congress call the compromise these days – this.

If supporters fear the excise tax mechanism will be exorcised from the final bill when (or if) it is voted on, it may not be Republicans they need to worry about. You didn’t think the chemical company lobby – sorry, the “chemical” company lobby – was ready to see the tax return without a fight, did you?

The American Chemistry Council is here with its counter-argument, a dubious argument that it hopes will pull the hearts of tree lovers. Ross Eisenberg, vice president of public affairs for the board, says any tax added to the cost of a finished product or component will increase the final price paid by the customer. While this is indisputable under capitalism, it highlights the products needed for – you guessed it – traditional and transitional infrastructure projects.

“All of these products on this list go into batteries for electric vehicles and infrastructure components, whether it’s wood, PVC or steel,” Eisenberg told “Marketplace.”

This is true, but it is misleading to suggest that the greatest threat to the price of repairing or rebuilding the most roads, bridges, and sewers, or building the most electric vehicles, comes from a fractional tax on certain raw materials. No, that honor goes to greedy speculators who take advantage of one-off shortages, to profiteering manufacturers who use any excuse to raise a wholesale price more than necessary, to unions with insatiable demands, and to state and local governments whose regulations go to the limit. – beyond protection in the absurd.

Although rates varied by material, the original Superfund law of the 1980s collected around $ 5 per tonne on many petrochemicals. That’s all. But that was enough to fund most of the expensive clean-ups at places like the infamous Lipari landfill in the canton of Mantua, which is home to a poisonous beer so varied that it would have been impossible to charge the full cost to all commercial dumpers. The owners of the site were virtually penniless by the time the pollution was discovered years later.

The law was designed for the Environmental Protection Agency to prosecute those responsible for remediation spending, but this is not always possible. Some administrations in Washington probably haven’t tried too hard. The trust fund was a kind of guarantee that the elimination of dangerous pollution would not be delayed interminably.

It’s not as if no cleaning is taking place. State funding and other federal credits have provided money, and as the Chemistry Council notes, many modern chemical waste producers are accepting their environmental responsibility.

Nonetheless, South Jersey’s water supply is now threatened by a class of previously undetected chemicals, per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and their newer alternatives. It would be good to have a solid fund for “orphan” sites again. We are already seeing “It wasn’t me” responses from some of the accused polluters. Affected residents shouldn’t be forced to listen to the lyrics to that old Shaggy song forever.

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