Though budget cuts loom, EPA director pledges to prioritize Superfunds

31 May 2017 by Sarah Mahan under News

Environmental Protection Agency logo 100x100 Though budget cuts loom, EPA director pledges to prioritize SuperfundsThe U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has undoubtedly faced changes since President Donald Trump took office in January. The shakeup includes naming Scott Pruitt as the agency’s administrator and rolling back many regulations put in place during the Obama era.

Although Pruitt is actively reducing regulations aimed at preventing future environmental issues, he has also recently pledged to prioritize cleaning up old contamination sites, directing regional chiefs to increase efforts to remediate Superfund sites, CBS 42 reports.

“I am making it a priority to ensure contaminated sites get cleaned up. We will be more hands-on to ensure proper oversight and attention to the Superfund program at the highest levels of the agency, and to create consistency across states,” Pruitt said, according to an agency release.

EPA Superfund sites were created in the 1980s to help “protect human health and the environment by managing the cleanup of the nation’s worst hazardous waste sites and responding to local and nationally significant environmental emergencies,” the EPA website states. Many of those Superfund sites are declared because they are contaminated with asbestos, a known human carcinogen that can cause lung cancer and deadly . “Asbestos in the environment may be addressed by the Superfund program if it is the result of past industrial operations or improper waste disposal,” according to the website.

Though Pruitt’s directive seems to contradict the more than $3.3 million cut the Trump administration proposed for the 2018 Superfund budget, EPA spokesperson Liz Bowman said, “We are looking at ways to be more efficient with taxpayer resources, and are thinking through creative and efficient ways to get these sites cleaned up.”

More than 1,300 sites are prioritized for cleanup nationally.

 

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