The debate about whether and how to reauthorize the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA)—better known as Superfund—has continued relatively unabated since 1986, when the law was last the subject of a major reauthorization. A central question now facing Congress is whether there is enough money in the Hazardous Substance Superfund (Trust Fund) to continue to pay for the program. If not, funds for the program will need to come from general revenues, unless the now-expired taxes that stocked the Trust Fund are reimposed. As a result, the question of whether, and when, the Superfund program will “ramp down” is a pressing concern.

To shed some light on this question, Congress asked ...

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