Friday, February 25, 2005

Federal Emergency Methamphetamine Lab Cleanup Act of 2005 (S.259)

Methamphetamine Takes Toll on Rural Areas

High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Initiative By By Senator Tim Johnson (D-SD)

In this Press Release from Senator Johnson it is reported:

Washington, DC – In newspapers across South Dakota, reports show that methamphetamine production and trafficking is increasing at a rapid pace, especially in rural areas. As a former prosecutor, I have witnessed the horrible effect that illegal drugs have on individuals, entire families, and communities as well.

In addition to the human costs, I am very concerned about the harsh impact that illicit methamphetamine manufacturing has on the environment. According to most estimates, the clean up costs of a meth lab site can range from $3,000 to over $100,000. The cost can become very significant for local law enforcement entities to absorb. Furthermore, as we become more vigilant in our efforts to locate meth manufacturing lab sites, these costs will only increase.

Recently, I introduced the Federal Emergency Meth Lab Cleanup Act of 2005 (S.259). This act will mandate that a portion of the Forfeiture Fund, administered by the Department of Treasury, be made available specifically for methamphetamine lab site cleanup. Currently, the Forfeiture Fund is used for expenses of drug seizures and forfeiture, contract services, compensation to informers, and other amounts authorized pertaining to remission and mitigation. The Federal Emergency Meth Lab Cleanup Act of 2004 addresses the following:

--Provides payment to the designated state, local, or tribal law enforcement entity, environment, or health entity for experts and consultants needed for cleaning up areas formerly used as an illicit meth lab; and

--In the event the lab is located on private property, payment from this fund will not exceed 90% of costs and can only be used by property owners who had no knowledge of the existence or operation of the lab prior to a law enforcement action or if upon learning of the lab, law enforcement agency is notified within 24 hours.

As a member of the United States Senate, and as a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I have continuously sought increased federal funding of law enforcement and drug treatment and prevention programs. As well, I have worked to significantly increase funding to assist local law enforcement in the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) initiative. This important initiative has been successful in curbing the expanding drug trade, especially the alarming methamphetamine trade, in South Dakota. Additionally, I have been able to secure funds for methamphetamine awareness and prevention for the South Dakota Division of Alcohol and Drug Abuse.

A legislative approach is only one way to address the problems associated with meth use and its effects on rural areas such as South Dakota. However, it is my sincere hope that we can move this bipartisan legislation and begin the process of eliminating this drug from our communities. "

Kudos to Senator Johnson on this one!

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