Hazardous Waste Programs:

Information on Appropriations and Expenditures for Superfund, Brownfields, and Related Programs

GAO-05-746R: Published: Jun 30, 2005. Publicly Released: Jul 6, 2005.

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Our July 2003 report on the status of the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Superfund program included, among other things, data on the program's appropriations and expenditures for fiscal years 1993 to 2002. In February 2004, we issued a report updating that information and, in May 2004, we broke down the appropriations data, reporting the amounts for the Superfund program as well as amounts designated for EPA's Brownfields program, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) that had previously been included in the Superfund appropriation. Superfund program operations are funded by appropriations from the Superfund trust fund. Historically, a tax on crude oil and certain chemicals and an environmental tax on corporations were the primary sources of revenues for the fund; however, the authority for these taxes expired in 1995. The trust fund continues to receive revenues in the form of cost recoveries, interest on the fund balance, fines and penalties, and general revenue fund appropriations. EPA's Brownfields activities to clean up and redevelop underutilized industrial properties were funded under the Superfund appropriation until the Brownfields program appropriations were changed, based upon the Congress' passage of the Small Business Liability Relief and Brownfields Revitalization Act in January 2002. Since fiscal year 2003, the Brownfields program has been funded through EPA's Environmental Program Management and State and Tribal Assistance Grants appropriations, rather than Superfund. ATSDR and NIEHS--both under the Department of Health and Human Services--are responsible for certain Superfund-related activities. ATSDR is responsible for carrying out health-related activities; and NIEHS is responsible for basic research and worker training and education programs. Since fiscal year 2001, the Congress has provided ATSDR and NIEHS with funding for these activities directly, rather than through the Superfund program. Our three reports primarily focused on the Superfund program and included information on ATSDR, NIEHS, and the Brownfields program only for those fiscal years when their hazardous waste-related activities were funded through the Superfund program appropriations. To supplement the information in these reports, Congress asked us to determine the total funding and expenditure levels for EPA's Superfund and Brownfields programs and the Superfund-related programs of the ATSDR and NIEHS for fiscal years 1993 to 2005.

Total funding for the Superfund and Brownfields programs and the Superfund-related programs of the ATSDR and NIEHS, in current year dollars, remained relatively constant from fiscal year 1993 to fiscal year 2005. In inflation-adjusted dollars, however, the total funding for these programs decreased from about $1.9 billion in fiscal year 1993 to about $1.5 billion in fiscal year 2005. For fiscal years 1993 through 1998, the Brownfields expenditures are included within the Superfund expenditures and cannot be readily separated because, according to EPA, the Brownfields expenditures were not tracked separately in the agency's financial system. Also, NIEHS' expenditure records prior to fiscal year 1998 are no longer available because of its records retention policies. Furthermore, obligation data are presented for ATSDR because expenditure data were not readily available. Nevertheless, although incomplete, the available expenditure data indicate that, similar to the funding data, from fiscal year 1993 through 2004, the expenditures were relatively constant, in current year dollars; but, in inflation-adjusted dollars, they fluctuated over the period.

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