Pruitt to Seek ‘Neighborhood Solutions’ for Superfund Cleanups

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By Sylvia Carignan

EPA pick Scott Pruitt would seek a citizen-level focus for the Superfund program, according to the president-elect’s transition team.

Pruitt will ensure the Superfund program becomes responsive to local input—something it doesn’t do now, according to a team spokesperson.

Pruitt was elected attorney general of Oklahoma in 2010. One of the state’s Superfund sites, Tar Creek, is an abandoned mining district that became part of the National Priorities List in 1983.

A spokesperson for President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team said the Tar Creek Superfund site predates Pruitt’s time as attorney general, but that the site is exemplary of Pruitt’s slogan, “national standards; neighborhood solutions.”

At the Tar Creek site, the spokesperson said local residents got involved with the cleanup program, which benefited them.

“Local environmental cleanup is one of the most tangible things Americans can see EPA do,” the spokesperson said.

Between 2016 and 2010, a state-formed Lead-Impacted Communities Relocation Assistance Trust bought residents and businesses out of their affected properties in order to demolish them. According to the state, the last structure was demolished in 2014.

The EPA, Oklahoma Department on Environmental Quality and the Quapaw tribe are currently taking the lead in the Tar Creek site’s cleanup.

Pruitt’s Past

Earl Hatley is with the Grand Riverkeeper organization, which protects the waters of the Grand River watershed in Oklahoma. He said Pruitt was eager to challenge the EPA over the Clean Air Act while serving as the attorney general.

“I think he just sued the pants off the EPA so that he could get their attention,” Hatley said.

But, he said, Pruitt didn’t get involved in the Superfund site.

“He’s had nothing to say about Tar Creek whatsoever,” he said.

The majority of the site’s cleanup, which involves heavy metals and acidic mine water, has yet to be done, Hatley said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Sylvia Carignan in Washington, D.C., at scarignan@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Larry Pearl at lpearl@bna.com

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