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Upton Requests Further Information from EPA on Superfund Designation

Letter looks to ensure efficient cleanup at the Allied Paper/Kalamazoo River Superfund site

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Washington, December 21, 2017 | Lynn Turner/Tom Wilbur (202-225-3761/269-385-0039) | comments

U.S. Rep. Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph, today sent a letter, alongside colleagues in the U.S. House of Representatives, to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt in regards to the recent news that the EPA intends to prioritize certain cleanups under the Superfund program. Among the programs the EPA has targeted for “immediate, intense attention” is the Allied Paper/Kalamazoo River Superfund site.

Upton previously released a statement in support of the new designation. The letter is meant as a follow up to provide more clarification and transparency about the process and whether additional federal resources will be made available. In addition to Upton, the letter is signed by U.S. Rep. Greg Walden, R-Oregon, and U.S. Rep. John Shimkus, R-Illinois.

Upton also released the following statement: “The goal here is to ensure an efficient cleanup at the Allied Paper/Kalamazoo River Superfund site in full consultation and cooperation with our local leaders. While the new priority designation is good news and a good start, we need further information. Our work continues on this important Kalamazoo priority.”

The full text of the letter can be found here or below:

Dear Administrator Pruitt:

 The Energy and Commerce Committee has oversight responsibility for the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA). While we appreciate that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has indicated an intent to prioritize cleanup under the Superfund program, we write to express concern regarding the list of Superfund sites that EPA has targeted for “immediate, intense attention,” which EPA released on Friday December 8, 2017. During the Environment Subcommittee hearing the previous day Members specifically asked you about this list, and 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 Superfund cleanup program already involves a significant amount of process, and it is not clear how creating another list of sites will expedite cleanups. Furthermore, it is not clear how the sites on the “Top-21 List” (the List) were selected. The documentation published with the List states that “these sites have site-specific issues that will benefit from the Administrator’s direct engagement” and that “these are sites requiring timely resolution of specific issues to expedite cleanup and redevelopment efforts.”  

 The information published with the List indicates that there is no commitment of additional funding associated with a site’s inclusion on the list. We question what it will mean for sites to be on the List and whether the potential stigma of being included on a list targeted for “immediate, intense action” with no additional funding, will help or hinder the progress at these sites.

 In light of our concern in this area, we request that you provide the Committee with the following additional information:

 1.      Regarding how the decision was made to list the twenty-one sites, please explain what it means that you will provide “direct engagement,” and how you think that your direct involvement at these sites will expedite cleanup and redevelopment efforts. 

 2.     Who was consulted in making the decision about what sites to put on the List? We request that you provide the Committee with detailed information regarding the process undertaken, identify when the decision was made to include each of these twenty-one sites on the List, and identify who was consulted in making the decision about which sites should be included.

 a.     Specifically, did EPA consult the States in which the sites are located?

 b.     The potentially responsible parties at these sites?

 c.     The Community Advisory Groups associated with these sites?

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