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Here’s how we know Vermont’s new climate law will work

The Superfund worked by raising taxes on the most toxic industries, assessing the most toxic sites to set priorities, and forcing those directly responsible for specific toxic wastes (often multiple parties) to pay for its cleaning. It was a success, especially in the early years under Reagan and Bush, cleaning up Love Canal as well as another high-profile location in Kentucky. Over the life of the program, more than 450 toxic sites have been cleaned up and in some cases restored to green space, including baseball fields, soccer fields, wetlands, bird sanctuaries and, in Pensacola, Florida, even a model airplane park. a Research from 2011 showed that tSuperfund cleanups have reduced birth defects by 20 to 25 percent (although many experts rightly question whether anyone should live near former hazardous waste dumps, even if they have been declared “clean”) .

By the 1990s, environmental politics had become more polarized between the parties, and some Superfund cuts were made under the right-wing, Newt Gingrich-led Congress. Although polluters deemed responsible for specific pollution in specific locations were still required to pay, Republicans eliminated a tax on oil and chemical companies that had been important to the fund’s health. These cuts meant that if no guilty parties could be found, the cleanup had to be paid for by a fund set up with taxpayer money โ€“ which was not consistently replenished; Federal funding for the Superfund was cut in half between 1999 and 2013.

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