The shortcomings of the EPA under Anne (Burford) Gorsuch.
Research is continually reaffirming the need for a strong, aggressive Environmental Protection Agency ("poison" 7). The average American's exposure to toxic chemicals is expected to double in the 1980's. Experts estimate that there are as many as 50,000 dumps with toxic chemical wastes across the country and 180,000 open pits, ponds and lagoons with toxic waste and at least 14,000 of the sites are potentially dangerous (Beck 20). Companies generate about 88 billion pounds of toxic wastes a year and an estimated ninety percent is disposed of improperly (beck 21). And yet, in spite of the obvious need for action, the EPA, headed by Anne Gorsuch, has almost come to a complete halt (Beck 21). Founded in 1970, after the Love Canal incident made it an obvious concern, the EPA steadily increased its effectiveness, until 1981, when Anne Gorsuch took office as the Chief Administrator of the EPA ("How Sewergate" 73).
Prior to Mrs. Gorsuch, one of the EPA's most significant accomplishments was getting the 96th Congress to create a five year, 1.6 billion dollar "Superfund" (Beck 21). This legislation empowered the EPA to spend the Superfund monies for toxic site cleanup and to then replenish the fund by suing the companies that dumped hazardous wastes at these sites for up to three times the actual cost of cleaning up the sites (Hoertel 23). Thus, for the first time, the EPA had the money to immediately start cleaning up hazardous sites and a method whereby, eventually, the companies creating the hazard would pay for cleaning up today's, and future, toxic sites. But this has not happened under Mrs. Gorsuch. In 1982, the EPA listed 114 toxic dumping sites as posing an immediate danger to the public (Poison" 8). By 1983, this list has grown to 418 sites and only five of the original 114 have been cleaned up (Williams 12). This was not caused by lack of funds because: of the $283 million that the EPA received in 1982, the undetermined funds received in 1981, and the funds received thus far in 1983, ("Poison" 8). Mrs. Gorsuch says that she has committed only $180 million (William 12). Somehow, based on this amazing record, Mrs. Gorsuch has stated that the program is doing so well that "I don't see the need to continue the Superfund beyond 1985" (William 12).
The concept of discontinuing the Superfund in 1985 is not based on the monies that the EPA is getting from suing the companies that create the hazards. Instead, the agency prefers to negotiate agreements with the companies, even though critics in Congress charge that the results amounted to "sweetheart" deals ("Regulators" 33). By mid-February, 1983, the EPA had reached 21 cleanup deals in which the companies have agreed to spend about $122 million ("Regulators" 33). Gorsuch has argued that negotiating with business is a faster way to end pollution than suing or prosecuting, (Adler 24) but these agreements only charge the companies for...