What’s next for the West’s Superfund sites? — High Country News – Colorado News

What’s next for the West’s Superfund sites? — High Country News – Colorado News

Budget cuts threaten clean-up in the region’s most polluted areas.


On Aug. 1 the Waste Management and Regulatory Oversight Subcommittee held a hearing to discuss the fate of Superfund, a program of the Environmental Protection Agency. The meeting comes one week after the Superfund task force, which was created by EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt in May, released its first report with recommendations for cleanups of sites.

Old cars serve as a water break on Navajo Nation in Apache County, Arizona.

But the fate of the program may be threatened by budget cuts proposed to the EPA and the Superfund program, which will shrink by 30 percent if President Donald Trump’s budget is passed. Although Trump’s proposed cut to the EPA was expected, the deep cut to Superfund was not. Pruitt has previously said he does not support cutting the Superfund program and instead promised to prioritize it. “Unfortunately, many of these sites have been listed as Superfund sites for decades, some for as many as 30 years,” Pruitt wrote in an announcement of a Superfund Task Force in May. “This is not acceptable. We can — and should — do better.”

In her opening remarks, ranking committee member Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., said Pruitt is setting unrealistic expectations for what Superfund can accomplish with a skinny budget. “The rhetoric and the reality may not add up,” she said. “I would like to hear how the agency plans to accelerate the pace of cleanups while significantly cutting the sources of funding to do that cleanup.”

Much of the hearing Tuesday focused on just that: how the agency expects to address the…

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