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House bill Would Shift Costs to Taxpayers, Schiffer Says.
Daily Environment Report, August 30, 1999, pB-1.

In a Special Report in the Daily Environment Report, Assistant Attorney General Lois Schiffer, head of the Department of Justice's Environment and Natural Resources Division, says that the bi-partisan House bill (H.R. 1300) would shift the costs of Superfund cleanup from environmental polluters to the taxpayer and increase litigation. The Assistant Attorney General contends that rather than lead to a decrease in litigation, a number of provisions in the House bill would result in an "explosion of litigation."

"This means that we will be moving away from the settlement-driven system that we have established now," said Ms. Schiffer, "to one in which parties have a clear incentive to litigate and litigate. Plus, under H.R. 1300, those costs that don't get allocated would be shifted onto the taxpayers."

Ms. Schiffer goes on to add, in an interview with the Bureau of National Affair's Daily Environment Report, that "If this bill passes, the taxpayers are going to end up bearing a much larger share of the costs of the program. This flies in the face of one of the basic principles of the superfund program, which is that it's the polluter who is supposed to pay for cleanup of contaminated sites."

She also feels that the rate of cleanups of hazardous sites would be greatly slowed. "In short, H.R. 1300 is counterproductive, in terms of reducing the role of lawyers, getting agreements among polluters rather than litigating, getting polluters to pay for cleanups in a fair fashion, and getting on with the business of actually cleaning up sites on the National Priorities List."

 

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