Senator Jim Inhofe
Environment and Public Works Committee
Hearing on Superfund
Thursday September 4, 1997

Mr. Chairman, thank you for holding today's hearing on S. 8, the Superfund Bill. I would like to commend both you and Senator Smith for moving the Superfund process forward. You both deserve a lot of credit for getting us to the point we are today. This committee has been working through the Superfund mess for years, including the last two and a half years under your leadership. After months and even years of negotiations I am happy that we are finally moving forward.

I know that members on the other side of the aisle are not happy with all parts of the chairman's draft, to them I would say that this is not what we will be voting on next week. There will be amendments from both sides and I hope when all is said and done we can come together and report out a bipartisan Superfund Bill.

Personally I am disappointed with several areas of the Bill, and I hope to work with my colleagues over the next week to improve the legislation. I would like to outline a few of my concerns.

First on the liability section, while the bill goes a long way in addressing the joint and several liability problem innocent parties are still responsible for unattributable waste, which would best be left to the orphan share.

In addition, last Congress I raised several specific cases during the Superfund hearings, I would like to remind my colleagues of two of those. The first involved the auto dealers in Oklahoma City who sent their used oil to a registered dealer and were held liable even though they did nothing wrong. The second case involved the Mill Creek Lumber Company who sent their used crank case oil to a licensed recycling and disposal center. In both of these cases we have innocent parties who did nothing wrong, the problems occurred later in the process. Unfortunately under the liability provisions of the Bill they would still be liable. They don't fall under the small business exclusion or the recyclers provision.

I think both provisions need to be amended. The small business provision needs to use the same definitions of other federal programs and the recycling provision should include the generation and transportation of oil and solvents.

Under Natural Resource Damages, the bill makes many improvements over current law but I believe some areas need to be clarified and amended. We have to be sure that non-use and lost-use damages are not collected, no matter what they might be called. In addition, we need to be careful how we treat record review. We must ensure that all important information will be considered in a judicial hearing.

Finally, I am concerned how the oil and gas industry are affected by Superfund. Our country now imports more oil than we produce. This is a national security issue. As a Subcommittee chairman on Armed Services and a member of the Intelligence Committee, I know first hand how important our oil supply is to our national defense and our nation's economy. I want to make sure we are not creating problems in this Committee that will need to be solved in my other Committees.

Every time the federal government imposes more regulations on the oil industry, we start importing more oil and producing less. Superfund already hits the oil industry the hardest through the taxes. They pay over 50% of the Superfund taxes. This Bill does not address their recycling or waste issues, even though their wastes have low toxicity. I hope to join my colleagues in addressing these concerns.

I thank the Chairman for calling today's hearing and I look forward to the witnesses' testimony.