Implications of Key Reauthorization Issues

T-RCED-96-145: Published: May 3, 1996. Publicly Released: May 3, 1996.

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GAO discussed how the proposed Accelerated Cleanup and Environmental Restoration Act would affect the Superfund Program's reauthorization. GAO noted that the legislation would: (1) require that cleanups comply only with standards that pertain to hazardous waste cleanups, rather than with water quality standards; (2) allow states to define their own standards and permit the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to waive those standards; (3) require that EPA use site-specific data and less conservative assumptions when assessing cleanup sites; (4) require that cleanup sites be ranked by risk; (5) allow the expanded use of low-cost hazardous waste containment measures at cleanup sites; (6) relax the restrictions on non-time-critical removals, which can speed the cleanup process; (7) provide assistance to states to establish programs through which private parties would voluntarily clean up sites; (8) restrict the number of additional sites that could be added to the National Priorities List (NPL); (9) shift the financial burden of the Superfund program from the federal government to state governments; (10) limit the liability of responsible parties at Superfund sites, establish a nonbinding process to distribute the cost of cleanups, and decrease liability for natural resource damage; and (11) mandate the testing and use of new, potentially cost-reducing technologies such as bioremediation at cleanup sites.

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