House Republicans Criticize Pruitt’s Toxic-Sites List

By Sylvia Carignan

Republican leaders of a House committee are questioning the need for Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt’s new list of superfund sites that need “immediate, intense attention.”

Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, wrote to the EPA Dec. 21 to ask how creating an additional list of toxic sites, without any additional funding, would help those sites get cleaned up faster.

Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.), chairman of the committee’s Subcommittee on Environment, and Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), chairman of the committee’s Subcommittee on Energy, also signed the letter.

“We will respond to Chairmen Walden, Upton, and Shimkus through the proper channels,” EPA spokesperson Jahan Wilcox told Bloomberg Environment.

December List

The agency list, released Dec. 8, emphasizes severely contaminated sites where the EPA believes it could speed up progress or encourage redevelopment by applying pressure to ongoing negotiations or deciding which remedy should be applied (see related story).

Not all of the sites are from the EPA National Priorities List, about 1,300 of the country’s most-contaminated sites.

The 21 sites on the list all urgently need action, and Pruitt will receive regular updates on each of them, according to the EPA.

In the Dec. 21 letter, the committee asked Pruitt why he didn’t mention which sites would be on the list, particularly when the list was mentioned at a subcommittee hearing the previous day.

“Despite many of the sites included being of particular concern to committee members, we did not receive any indication from you that these sites would be included,” the letter stated.

The members are giving the EPA until Jan. 8 to tell the committee how the agency chose those sites, who was consulted, and how Pruitt thinks his influence on the sites will improve cleanup efforts.

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