Editorial: EPA fails public in lack of transparency on Superfund changes

The Denver Post: After the Environmental Protection Agency’s Gold King epic blunder in 2015, Coloradans know all too well the importance of getting it right when it comes to cleaning up toxic mines and heavily polluted areas. We were pleased to see the agency’s new chief, Scott Pruitt, make rehabilitating the Gold King mine a top priority.

Yet a legitimate concern has arisen in whether Pruitt’s agency has stumbled in its handling of the overall Superfund program by failing to live up to transparency standards Americans hold sacred, and in doing so failing the public it is to serve.

At issue is the work of an EPA internal task force assembled to revise procedures for cleaning up the country’s most polluted sites. The EPA claims that the 107-member task force generated no record of its deliberations other than the report it sent to Pruitt.

Pruitt announced this spring that the Superfund Task Force would revamp the remediation process at more than 1,300 sites. To lead the group, he appointed Albert “Kell” Kelly, a political supporter without experience in cleanups. In roughly a month’s time, the task force issued more than 40 detailed recommendations that Pruitt summarily adopted.

Readers might remember that we staunchly opposed President Donald Trump’s nomination of Pruitt to run this vitally important agency. A key reason is that the former Oklahoma attorney general served as a Big Oil soldier who helped industry lobbyists challenge the EPA and other agencies. Given his too-cozy relationships with those the EPA regulates, Pruitt’s people need to show their work.

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