In a sternly worded letter to Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Stephen Johnson, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman John Dingell (D-Mich.) said on Sept. 12 that the slowdown in finishing Superfund projects is a direct result of “inadequate budget requests and funding shortfalls,” not projects’ complexity, as the agency has claimed.

Between 1997 and 2000, an average of 86 cleanups were completed per year, compared with 24 in fiscal 2007. Dingell said a committee analysis suggested that EPA staffers had “unreasonably inflated” data to show that remaining projects are more complex.

An EPA spokeswoman says that Superfund cleanup work “remains steady” and is now concentrated at larger and more complicated sites.