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GAO Report Confirms almost $2 Billion in EPA's Superfund Special Accounts Sitting Idle

Link to GAO Report

Washington, D.C. - A report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), entitled "Superfund: Status of EPA's Efforts to Improve its Management and Oversight of Special Accounts," which was released today confirms that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has almost $2 billion sitting idle in Superfund Special Accounts.  This report was requested in May by Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.

"Today's GAO report confirms my concern that EPA is allowing almost $2 billion in taxpayer dollars to sit idle instead of using it for its intended purpose: to clean up superfund sites," Senator Inhofe said. "I am still waiting on answers from EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson regarding two questions I asked back in May: why is EPA not using these funds, and does EPA have a plan to obligate these funds in the future?  If this is a management issue, it needs to be resolved as soon as possible.  Especially in this current economic climate, if funds are specified for a particular project they should be obligated and disbursed so that they can facilitate superfund cleanups; if they are not needed, EPA must address its funding management problems immediately."

Specifically, GAO found that from fiscal year 1990 through October 2010, EPA's 10 regions collected from potentially responsible parties almost $4 billion in funds that were subsequently placed in special accounts. Nearly half of these funds are still available to be obligated for future Superfund cleanup; the remaining funds have already been obligated, but not all of these obligated funds have been disbursed.  As of October 2010, of the $1.9 billion funds that EPA had obligated for Superfund cleanup expenses, $1.6 billion had been disbursed. This means that as of October 2010, EPA is sitting on $1.8 billion.  Even more troubling is the fact that EPA has $300 million that it has obligated but has not been disbursed.