Washington, D.C. - Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, sent another oversight letter to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa Jackson asking EPA to explain why the agency has $2.26 billion in its Superfund Trust Fund that remains uncommitted. In a May 2011 letter, Senator Inhofe asked Administrator Jackson a series of questions addressing these unobligated funds, but Administrator Jackson's reply left two of the most important questions Senator Inhofe posed unanswered. In today's letter, Senator Inhofe asked Administrator Jackson again to answer these specific two questions that she failed to answer in her previous letter.
"Last May, I asked EPA a series of questions to get to the bottom of why such an enormous amount of funds from EPA's FY2011 Superfund budget sat idle - but the response I received from Administrator Jackson failed to address two of the most important questions in the letter," Senator Inhofe said. "The American taxpayer deserves to know 1) if EPA plans to obligate these funds and provide a specific plan that addresses each account and 2) why EPA is not using these funds. That EPA did not answer these two questions from my initial letter leads me to assume they do not have an answer - and that is unacceptable. I will continue to provide the necessary oversight until this issue is resolved."
Specifically the two questions that EPA did not address are:
1. Does EPA plan to obligate this money? By what time and for what sites? (i.e. I am specifically asking what is your specific plan overall and for each Superfund special account.)
2. Your agency has consistently said that your pace of cleanup is directly tied to your funding levels. Since the pace of construction completions is at an all time low, why is EPA not using these funds? (i.e. Is this a management issue or are the EPA regions not using these funds?)
EPA requested $1.24 billion in funding for the FY2012 Superfund program, but EPA had $2.26 billion carried forward in unused balances as of the beginning of FY2011. When combined with the requested FY2012 appropriations of $1.24 billion, OMB estimates that EPA will have at least $3.88 billion in total budgetary resources available for the Superfund program in FY2012.