As the Environmental Protection Agency's Superfund director from 1985 to 1989, I read with interest your article "Can Clinton clean up the Superfund morass?" (Washington Outlook, Feb. 14). The Administration's attempt to fix Superfund will simply make one complex program into another.
A better idea is to turn most of Superfund over to the states, with suitable funding. Using their own statutes, some 40 states are cleaning up sites faster, and at much less cost, than the federal Superfund program. The typical EPA cleanup takes 10 years and costs about $30 million. By contrast, Minnesota cleanups take two to three years and average less than $5 million. Wisconsin has already cleaned up about 230 sites, more than the entire federal program.
This is not because state workers are smarter than those at EPA. It's because cleanup solutions must be based on local environmental, land-use, economic, and community concerns.
Also, the states have much less money to deal with waste sites. Thus, they have applied their resources more directly to cleanup than has the EPA, which has had enough money to build a large bureaucracy.
J. Winston Porter
Waste Policy Center