The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) partly or completely cleaned seven of the most toxic land sites, called Superfund sites, in the U.S. in 2017, according to the EPA.
Of the seven sites designated for cleanup, three were completely cleansed, while four others still require some work. The cleanup effort is a significant improvement over the year prior when the EPA completely cleaned one Superfund site and parts of another.
“We have made it a priority to get these sites cleaned up faster and in the right way,” EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said in a statement. “By creating a streamlined task force and making major remedy decisions that hold potentially responsible parties accountable for cleanup, the Superfund program is carrying out the agency’s mission of protecting human health and the environment more every day.”
The gains Pruitt’s EPA made are part of a list of 21 contaminated sites that need “immediate and intense attention” out of more than 1,300 Superfund sites nationwide.
Pruitt has been criticized recently for rolling back environmental regulations and reducing his agency’s scope and reach. Undoing rules put in place by the Obama administration, Pruitt has reduced regulatory burdens on industries and put the environment and public health at risk, The Washington Post reports.
Pruitt says he is allowing more of a local voice when it comes to development and taking a stewardship-focused, rather than preventative, view of the relationship between the environment and industry.
“The last administration talked about putting up fences. [They said,] ‘Let’s not develop, we’re not going to use the natural resources to feed the world and power the world.’ I think that’s wrong,” Pruitt told WaPo. “I think our focus should be on using our natural resources — with environmental stewardship in mind. … We can be about jobs and growth and be good stewards of our environment. The last several years we’ve been told we can’t do both.”
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