Ex-LyondellBasell Counsel to Lead Superfund Push at EPA

By Sylvia Carignan

The EPA has named a former chemical company lawyer to head the group in charge of accelerating contaminated site cleanups around the U.S.

Steven Cook, who has been serving as deputy assistant administrator for the agency’s land and waste office, will now chair the Superfund task force, the Environmental Protection Agency told Bloomberg Environment May 24.

Cook replaces Albert “Kell” Kelly, who left the agency at the beginning of May amid growing scrutiny over EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s spending and ethics practices.

Cook previously served as senior corporate counsel at LyondellBasell Industries N.V., a plastics, chemicals, and refining company.

The land and waste office oversees the Superfund program, which works to clean up some the most contaminated in the country. Those Superfund sites include the Gowanus Canal in New York, Portland Harbor in Oregon, and Tar Creek in Oklahoma.

Properties with the EPA’s Superfund designation are eligible to receive federal funds for cleanup, although the agency aims to compel companies responsible for the sites, or third parties, to pay those cleanup bills.