Climate change puts 327 Superfund sites at risk
- An investigation from the Associated Press identified 327 Superfund sites that are prone to flooding or susceptible to rising sea levels created by climate change.
- Around two million people live within one mile of these at-risk sites, all across the country. New Jersey and California both have 35 at-risk sites, Florida has 33 and Texas has 24. No other states have more than 14 at-risk sites.
- The Trump administration has proposed cutting funding for the Environmental Protection Agency's Superfund program, though a budget has yet to be passed by Congress. An EPA spokesman told the AP the news wire was engaged in "fear-mongering," as "not a single dollar has actually been eliminated" since a budget has not passed.
Superfund cleanup has become a clear priority for EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, who established a list of sites that are targeted for "immediate, intense" action and Pruitt's direct involvement. The agency has yet to offer clarity on what the administrator's direct involvement would look like.
There have been other factors affecting Pruitt's apparent commitment to Superfund cleanup. While the infamous West Lake Landfill site now has a cleanup plan, others on the "top site" list remain unchanged. Pruitt also has a complicated public history with the science of climate change, and Trump has rejected the scientific consensus altogether.
It is therefore unclear if an investigation showing hundreds of Superfund sites will expedite any action from the agency, or if the AP report will supersede the recommendations of EPA's internal Superfund Task Force.
The Government Accountability Office is in the process of investigating whether Superfund sites are prepared for storms, in large part due to the way Superfund sites in Houston were damaged from Hurricane Harvey. The investigation is in its infancy, however, and it is unclear if it will have much impact at EPA — and an official with the Government Accountability Office told Waste Dive the investigation would likely take a year to complete once it started.
- Associated Press AP finds climate change risk for 327 toxic Superfund sites
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