In 1980, with the passage of the Comprehensive Environmental
Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, Congress created the
Superfund as a mechanism to clean up the toxic legacy of the
industrial and chemical revolutions. Over a decade later, the
consensus is that the program has failed: too much has been spent
and too little accomplished. Harold Barnett unravels the history of
this failure, examining the economic and political factors that
contributed to it and suggesting policy changes necessary to create
a viable cleanup program. Barnett argues that the Superfund has
failed because of conflict over who will pay the toxic debt and the
impact of this conflict on interdependent funding and enforcement
decisions at state, regional, and national levels. He argues that
the inability of legislators and regulatory agencies to take
effective and timely action is related to the economic and
political power of major corporate polluters. Spanning the Reagan
and Bush administrations, the book highlights the ongoing conflict
between deregulatory policies and environmental programs.
Originally published in 1994.
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