Congress plays a central role in national environmental policy formation but appears ill equipped to set policy priorities and devise integrative legislation. Fragmentation of authority among a multiplicity of committees and subcommittees, especially in the House, contributes to these problems. This pattern is evident in the evolution of Superfund, the national program to clean up abandoned hazardous waste sites. The prolonged process of reauthorization in the 1980s contributed to serious program delay and failed to resolve a number of fundamental questions concerning the national cleanup effort. Institutional reforms could contribute to a more effective congressional role in future environmental policy deliberations.

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