Cleaning-up Toxic Waste

Environmental Justice Signing
Message to Congress from President Clinton

Throughout my Administration, we have been refining Government, striving to make it work better and cost less. One of the best places to apply this principle in the environmental arena is the Superfund program. For far too long, far too many Superfund dollars have been spent on lawyers and not nearly enough have been spent on clean-up. I've directed my Administration to reform this program by cutting legal costs, increasing community involvement, and cleaning up toxic dumps more quickly. The reformed Superfund program will be faster, fairer, and more efficient—and it will put more land back into productive community use. President Clinton, Message to the Congress on Environmental Policy, April 6, 1995

The Clinton administration accelerated the cleanup of the nation's worst toxic waste sites, freeing communities from environmental threats and economic blight. The President also launched initiatives to accelerate the cleanup of brownfields and remove barriers to their redevelopment. Using over $2 billion in private sector investment, the brownfields redevelopment initiative generated thousands of jobs.

Remarks of the President concerning E.O. 12898 Executive Order 12898

In February, 1994, Clinton signed Executive Order 12898, which was a landmark statement on “environmental justice” (EJ). Superfund and brownfield sites are predominantly in poor neighborhoods, and this executive order required that all federal agencies "make achieving environmental justice part of its mission by identifying and addressing, as appropriate, disproportionately high and adverse human health or environmental effects of its programs, policies, and activities on minority populations and low-income populations." The issuance of this order required agencies to consider environmental justice when making decisions about policies and practices.