Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework to be Funded, in Part, by Renewed Superfund Tax
On June 24, 2021, President Biden agreed to a $1.2 trillion infrastructure framework developed by a bipartisan group of Senators that would make substantial investments into transportation, water, broadband, and power infrastructure. It would also invest in the clean-up of legacy pollution and climate resilience. The framework contains a number of provisions designed to offset the cost of the new spending, including a possible renewed Superfund tax for chemicals.
As background, prior to 1996, Congress imposed an excise tax on the sale of 42 chemicals at a rate that varied from 22 cents to $4.87 per ton. Under the Treasury Department’s General Explanations of the Administration’s Fiscal Year 2022 Revenue Proposals (“Green Book”), however, the Treasury Department noted “the Superfund excise taxes should be reinstated and increased because of the continuing need for funds to remedy damages caused by releases of hazardous substances.” President Biden also alluded to restoring payments from polluters into the Superfund Trust Fund in his American Jobs Plan. The pay-for under consideration for the bipartisan framework likely relies on the administration’s policy proposal, but details are sparse.
The legislation, yet to be introduced by Senators Sinema (D-AZ) and Portman (R-OH), still must pass Congress. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), who has been working closely with the Biden-Harris Administration on the terms of the infrastructure package, has not signaled her support for the bipartisan legislation. Senate Majority Leader Schumer (D-NY) stated Thursday morning he was “encouraged” and that the Senate would consider the legislation in mid-July. He also noted a second spending package with other Democratic priorities would be “tied” to it.