The United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) gets a lot of attention for an agency that accounts for less than 5% of the total federal budget. Of course, their policies do have a direct impact on citizens and businesses.
EPA Administrator Comments
More attention was gotten when, earlier this year, EPA Administrator, Scott Pruitt, announced the 2017 Annual Environmental Enforcement Results. His statement indicated a shift in how the EPA would approach environmental issues.
Mr. Pruitt said, “In fiscal year 2017, we focused on expediting site cleanup, deterring noncompliance, and returning facilities to compliance with the law, while respecting the cooperative federalism structure of our nation’s environmental laws.”
According to Mr. Pruitt, “Cooperative federalism is essential to properly protecting the environment. States play an enormous role, and we will work with them as partners, not adversaries, to solve the environmental challenges we face today.”
And, recently, Secretary Pruitt triggered a barrage of comments with his proposed rule that, “The era of secret science at EPA is coming to an end.” This proposal was met with both adulation and ire, including an op-ed by EPA Administrator, Gina McCarthy.
As a scientist, I certainly side with proven, repeatable, science-based decisions, but we’ll continue to watch the debate.
New Sites Added to Superfund List
On the implementation side, here is an update on what many consider the foundation program in the EPA: the National Priorities List (NPL); aka: Superfund Sites.
On May 15, 2018, the EPA added several new sites to the NPL. You can obtain additional information about each site from the EPA website. Some of the contaminants of concern at these sites include tetrachloroethene (PCE), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), trichloroethylene (TCE), cyanide, mercury, lead, chromium 6, and more. Four of the six sites are sites involving contaminated groundwater and potential impacts to drinking-water supplies.
- Hockessin Groundwater in Hockessin, Delaware;
- Burlington Industries Cheraw in Cheraw, South Carolina;
- Franklin Street Groundwater Contamination in Spencer, Indiana;
- Spring Park Municipal Well Field in Spring Park, Minnesota;
- Lane Plating Works, Inc. in Dallas, Texas; and
- River City Metal Finishing in San Antonio, Texas.
The following three sites have been proposed for addition to the NPL:
- Proteco in Peñuelas, Puerto Rico;
- Donnelsville Contaminated Aquifer in Donnelsville, Ohio; and
- Delfasco Forge in Grand Prairie, Texas.
Superfund Listing Good or Bad
Adding sites to the NPL is a two-edged sword. On one hand, the NPL listing makes the site eligible for remedial action funding under the Superfund (actually, under the Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act or CERCLA). On the other hand, if you have a nearby property (even if it is not affected), a Superfund site puts you closer to the cross hairs and is not always the best news for property valuation.
As stated above, two-thirds of these recently-listed NPL sites were listed because groundwater has been contaminated. To learn more about of the advancements in soil and groundwater investigations, see this short video.
Being a party to or even having a site that is proximate to an NPL can wreak havoc on your business and bring you into the “discussion.” While the evening news and political pundits are not likely going to be too interested in or focused on your more mundane, day-to-day environmental compliance issues, your environmental due diligence efforts, or your environmental cleanup within your site boundaries, you still need to be focused on them to avoid becoming a “newsworthy” story. As such, we will continue to do our best to keep you informed on these other not-so-lofty issues.
If you have any question about an environmental issue, please feel free to contact me at 248-932-0228, Ext. 125.