What: All Issues : Corporate Subsidies : Oil & Gas Industry : On passage of a Democratic amendment offered to the fiscal year 2005 budget resolution (S.Con.Res. 95), that would reinstate Superfund's "polluter pays" fees and reestablish a dedicated funding source for cleanups at more than 1,200 Superfund sites across the country.
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On passage of a Democratic amendment offered to the fiscal year 2005 budget resolution (S.Con.Res. 95), that would reinstate Superfund's "polluter pays" fees and reestablish a dedicated funding source for cleanups at more than 1,200 Superfund sites across the country.
senate Roll Call 45     Mar 11, 2004
Y = Conservative
N = Progressive
Winning Side:
Conservative

Conservatives in the Senate rejected an amendment Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J offered to the fiscal year 2005 budget resolution (S.Con.Res. 95), that would have reinstated Superfund's "polluter pays" fees and reestablished a dedicated funding source for cleanups at more than 1,200 Superfund sites across the country. Progressives said the amendment would preserve Americans' health while making polluters foot the bill for toxic waste site cleanups, Lautenberg's amendment would have forced the industries responsible for producing products that contaminate toxic waste sites and industries now exempt from liability for such contamination, thereby increasing spending by $8.3 billion for the Superfund program for fiscal year 2005 through fiscal year 2009. Progressives argued that by refusing to reinstate Superfund's polluter pays fees, Senate conservatives had voted to extend a $4 million per day "tax holiday" for polluters and continue charging regular taxpayers for toxic waste site cleanups. Funding for the Superfund program decreased by around 25 percent between 2001 and 2004 compared with 1992-2000, and in 2003 the Bush administration cleaned up only 40 Superfund toxic waste sites compared to an average of 87 sites per year in the middle and late 1990's. The EPA Inspector General recently reported a $175 million Superfund funding shortfall for fiscal year 2003. Since Congress allowed Superfund's polluter pays fees to expire in 1995 and the trust fund is now essentially bankrupt, regular taxpayers, who paid 18 percent of program costs in 1996, will pay for virtually all cleanups at abandoned sites this year -- and polluters virtually none. Former Presidents Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and Clinton all collected the "polluter pays" fees or supported their reinstatement, but the Bush administration opposes reinstating the fees. Conservatives rallied to reject this amendment, calling the "polluter pays" proposal an excise tax on law-abiding chemical and oil companies that would have been passed on to consumers. Moreover, they argued, under current law and practice, polluters already clean polluted sites whenever the federal government can identify the responsible parties. The "polluter pays" tax would simply force law-abiding companies who practice sound environmental practices (and their customers) to assume responsibility for the actions of others, conservatives said. They also charged that the polluter pays proposal is as much about politics as it is about pollution. The Lautenberg amendment failed 44-52, meaning polluters who contribute to Superfund site contamination will not be asked in the fiscal year 2005 to shoulder the entire cost of toxic waste cleanup.

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