- Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt said Tuesday that his agency is working to create a "top 10 list" of key Superfund sites that EPA could begin to "aggressively address," according to The Washington Post.
- Pruitt said he'd focus on sites where cleanup would cost $50 million or more. According to the Post, in recent staff memos, Pruitt said he'd be "personally involved" in tackling the project.
- Of the 1,336 Superfund sites, Pruitt did not confirm which 10 were making his priority list. According to the Post, Pruitt "repeatedly" referred to two sites: a public housing complex in Indiana that's saturated with lead, and a landfill outside St. Louis plagued with radioactive waste.
While Pruitt expressed unfamiliarity specifically with the West Lake site on a written questionnaire before he was sworn in, it appears that the administrator has hit the books since then. This isn't Pruitt's first time discussing tackling Superfund sites, and not his first time specifically mentioning the West Lake Landfill near St. Louis.
When interviewed on a radio show in April, Pruitt said, "The days of talking are over," and that the EPA was going to "get things done" at West Lake. In May, Pruitt formally announced a directive to prioritize site cleanups and EPA created a "Superfund Task Force" to "streamline and improve" the program.
All signs point to the EPA's budget shrinking this year, though it's not yet entirely clear where those reductions will be steepest. Even with private sector partnerships to tackle Superfund sites, change in funding in the 1990s lead to a slowing of cleanups — draining money from the EPA budget is likely to exacerbate that trend. Targeting 10 sites for aggressive cleanup could certainly be a boon for the effected communities. However, Pruitt's plan, so far, makes no mention of the other 1,326 Superfund sites, leaving a gaping hole that the federal government may not address.