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Trump's EPA claimed 'success' in Superfund cleanups ? but climate change went unaddressed

NBC News
InsideClimate News
the Texas Observer
the Environmental Protection Agency
the Center for Health, Environment
the Government Accountability Office
Trump administration
the Union of Concerned Scientists
Wyckoff-Eagle Harbor Superfund
the Lower Duwamish River
Trump administration’s
the Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition
International Paper
the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation
the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee
the Trump EPA's
Block said.“When
Dow Chemical
DuPont —
the National Priorities List
there.”David Coursen
the Environmental Protection Network

Jacob Carter
Barack Obama
Donald Trump
Scott Pruitt
Andrew Wheeler
Molly Block
James Hewitt
Peter C. Wright
Mike Cox
Heather Trim
Albert Kelly
Lois Gibbs
Hurricane Harvey
2028.Tom Ryan
Robert Murray
Jackie Young
John Barrasso
Jeff Merkley
Peter Wright
Bob Menendez
EPA.”After Wright
Frank Pallone
Dennis McLerran


Pacific Northwest
the Passaic River
San Jacinto River
the Pacific Northwest
the Tittabawassee River

Love Canal
the San Jacinto Waste Pits
the San Jacinto Pits Superfund

New York
San Jacinto
Dow Superfund
New Jersey
Midland County

Climate Change Adaptation Plan
the National Priorities List
Hurricane Harvey

Positivity     36.00%   
   Negativity   64.00%
The New York Times
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When the Government Accountability Office reported last year that 945 of 1,571 Superfund sites are threatened by climate change, the Trump administration rejected the GAO’s recommendation that the agency should better integrate data on climate-related risks into its mitigation planning at Superfund sites, saying its existing procedures were adequate.An analysis of federal Superfund data by InsideClimate News, the Texas Observer and NBC News found that 46 of the 945 sites faced triple threats from climate change because they were in flood plains, regularly flooded in high tide and were vulnerable to hurricanes.In its analysis of Superfund sites, the GAO included both active sites and sites that have been remediated, because the remediated sites may still contain contamination and could require additional protective work in the future, the agency said.In response to questions, Block said that the EPA’s existing procedures “adequately ensure that risks and any effects of severe weather events” are factored into planning and remediation efforts at Superfund sites. He resigned in disgust over the Trump administration’s redirection of the EPA under Pruitt, blasting the president in a 2017 resignation letter for denying climate science.The EPA did not make the project managers for either the Duwamish or Wyckoff sites available for interviews.Heather Trim, a member of the board of directors of the Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition and a workshop participant, said the issue of climate change has become dormant since 2017.“There hasn’t been anybody talking about climate change the way Mike did,” she said.Eager to make progress cleaning up Superfund sites, Pruitt brought in a banker friend from Oklahoma, Albert Kelly, to run the program in 2017.Kelly established a Superfund Task Force and created a sense of momentum by focusing on sites where corporations could be identified as “potentially responsible parties” and held liable for remediation costs.He and Pruitt concentrated on removing sites from the National Priorities List, the index of contaminated dumps and factory sites that had been designated for monitoring and cleanup under the Superfund program.Lois Gibbs, an activist who is often called the mother of the Superfund program for her advocacy at the polluted Love Canal site in New York in 1980, was initially impressed.She credited Pruitt and Kelly for actively going after corporate polluters, holding regular meetings with representatives of community groups at EPA headquarters in Washington, and visiting Superfund sites around the country.Pruitt flew to Houston after Hurricane Harvey in September 2017 and visited the notorious San Jacinto Waste Pits Superfund site after EPA divers confirmed that cancer-causing dioxin had leaked into the river during the storm.Pruitt announced that dioxin in the pits, which had supposedly been secured by a concrete cap, would finally be removed. Deleting sites from the list had become the agency’s leading metric for success, Wheeler had previously said.In virtually all of the removal cases, the start of those cleanup plans predated the Trump administration by decades, and many of those deleted sites are still under five-year review by the EPA because toxins remain present, often buried beneath sand, soil and concrete caps that have proven vulnerable to heightened flooding linked to climate change.Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J., grilled Wheeler at the hearing about why the Trump administration was proposing a $112 million cut in the Superfund program when there are 34 unfunded cleanup projects, the largest backlog in 15 years.Congress, which last month passed a stopgap resolution funding the government through Dec. 11, has previously rejected Trump’s annual proposed EPA cuts and continued agency funding at around current levels.At the February hearing, Pallone also asked Wheeler whether it was true that the Trump administration opposed legislation Pallone had introduced to incentivize climate protections at Superfund sites.Wheeler replied that the administration did oppose that legislation, but he added: “When we work on the Superfund sites, we work to make sure that we can withstand stronger storms and we have a very good track record there.”David Coursen, a former EPA attorney who now works with the Environmental Protection Network, a group of former EPA employees, disagreed.He said in an interview that Superfund site cleanups could stall, while others sit unattended, as a consequence of reduced funding, increasing the danger to communities from pollutants leaking into the water and air.“The Superfund program has always been a challenge,” he said.

As said here by David Hasemyer, InsideClimate News, Lise Olsen, Texas Observer