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Mr. PALLONE. Mr. Chairman, I want to thank my colleague from New York, the ranking member of the subcommittee.
Mr. Chairman, I rise today to urge my colleagues to vote ``no'' on H.R. 2279. This is an unnecessary and ill-advised piece of legislation that would significantly weaken our country's hazardous waste laws and further shift the burden of cleaning up these sites from the entities responsible for the contamination to the taxpayer instead.
Mr. Chairman, polluters are already not paying their fair share to help clean up America's worst toxic sites, and this bill only makes things worse. Since 1995 when the Superfund taxes expired, taxpayers have shouldered an unreasonable responsibility to pay for these cleanups. I have a bill, the Superfund Polluter Pays Act, which would reauthorize the original Superfund fees and make polluters, not taxpayers, pay the costs of cleaning up Superfund sites. Congress needs to reinstate the ``polluter pays'' taxes so the industries most responsible for polluting our land and water are held responsible for cleaning up our toxic legacy, a legacy which severely affects my home State of New Jersey.
But again we face the prospect of the Republican majority dismantling our Nation's critical environmental laws. The bill before us today is really a combination of three bills, all of which will hinder hazardous cleanup across the country. And I am especially troubled by provisions in the bill that enable sites to veto sites from being added to the Superfund National Priorities
List, as well as the provision that weakens the requirement for companies who deal with hazardous materials to carry insurance to cover contamination threats. Absent this insurance requirement, it will be easier for a company to go bankrupt and shirk its responsibility to clean up contamination that it has caused.
Mr. Chairman, cleaning up Superfund sites creates jobs by converting the contaminated areas into productive land ready for redevelopment and employing engineers, construction workers, and others engaged in the cleanup. I have seen this in my home State. New Jersey has more Superfund sites than any other State, and my county of Middlesex actually has more sites than any other county. But we have cleaned up a lot of these sites and created jobs. They are now used for recreation, for manufacturing, for shopping centers, so many other things.
We don't want to weaken the Superfund law. That would be a huge mistake. So I urge all of my colleagues to vote ``no'' on this legislation.
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