Trump's 'Tremendous Work' on Superfund Sites Includes Not Funding Their Cleanup

Seriously, fuck this guy.
Seriously, fuck this guy.
Photo: Getty

The Environmental Protection Agency under Donald Trump promised to clean up the most polluted sites in the U.S. Remember former administrator Scott Pruitt? He loved to go on and on about doing this when he wasn’t grifting. Well, turns out the EPA is doing a worse job under this dumb-ass president than it has in previous years.

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The number of Superfund sites that didn’t begin cleanup last year due to a lack of funds is the highest it’s been in at least 15 tears. The administration released Superfund information at the end of last year, and the AP conducted an analysis revealing how little the administration has done to clean up waste sites. In the decade before Trump was president, there were an average of about 17 sites that weren’t funded for cleanup. This year saw 34 sites go without funding.

This is just fresh coming from the Trump administration. In the past, the president has said, “We have done tremendous work on Superfunds.” He loves to brag about all the work the EPA has done to clean up these toxic sites, and Pruitt even went so far as to create a Superfund Task Force in 2017 to prioritize this work.

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This work requires a lot of money. I’m talking millions of dollars worth of money. And that’s per site. Cleaning up lead and dioxins isn’t cheap work, especially when done right. Now, sites in 18 states, including New York and Wisconsin, as well as Puerto Rico, are entering the new year without any federal funding to remediate their problems. The Trump administration has repeatedly proposed cuts to EPA funding, including the Superfund program. Congress hasn’t made those cuts, though it hasn’t increased funding for clean up either. That makes it hard to add any new sites to the cleanup list.

Cleaning up these sites isn’t just necessary for the well-being of the surrounding environment. Doing so protects public health and human lives. Trump, however, is too preoccupied with trying to be a tough guy to care about the people he was elected to protect.

Yessenia Funes is climate editor at Atmos Magazine. She loves Earther forever.

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DISCUSSION

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One possible explaination (and this is only a wildass guess) is Trump EPA wants to push Superfund sites down onto states - so cleanup (remedial action) goals become state specific. Each state has its own version of some sort of site remediation program similar in spirit to Superfund. A good (or even OK) environmental lawyer would have a better opinion on this.

There can be (at times) stigma to having an abandoned messed up site be listed under Superfund. Whether or not a site falls under Superfund kinda (sort of) has as much to do about money for cleaning up the mess as the mess itself. A critical portion of the Superfund  process is identifying potentially responsible parties or PRPs, i.e. the parties that made the mess. A (or the) goal would be to have PRPs pay for cleanup rather than the federal government. The sad fact of the matter is direct taxation for Superfund stopped around 2003. Since then funding comes from the general budget for the EPA, which may be discretionary.