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EPA Administrator Announces New Directive to Prioritize Superfund Cleanups

Administrator Pruitt elevates EPA focus on Superfund cleanup

Contact Information: 
U.S. EPA Media Relations (

WASHINGTON – In an effort to restore Superfund cleanup to its rightful place at the center of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s core mission, Administrator Scott Pruitt is prioritizing Superfund cleanup and streamlining the approval process for sites with remedies estimated to cost $50 million or more. The revision to EPA’s delegation of authority will ensure decision making comes straight from the Administrator. EPA’s Superfund program is responsible for the cleanup some of the nation’s most contaminated areas.

“I am making it a priority to ensure contaminated sites get cleaned up. We will be more hands-on to ensure proper oversight and attention to the Superfund program at the highest levels of the Agency, and to create consistency across states,” said Administrator Scott Pruitt.

The Administrator of EPA has always had the authority to sign-off on Superfund remediation efforts. Until recently, however, this authority had been delegated many layers into the bureaucracy, resulting in confusion among stakeholders and delayed revitalization efforts. Putting the decision of how to clean up the sites directly into the hands of the Administrator will help revitalize contaminated sites faster.

An interagency memo explains: It is through this enhanced cooperation and continuous involvement that we will work to revitalize this essential Agency effort while enhancing consistency in remedy selection across States and the Regions.

Administrator Pruitt has prioritized Superfund cleanup as part of his effort to refocus EPA on its intended mission. Last month he visited the USS Lead Superfund Site in East Chicago, Ind., to view ongoing cleanup activities. Administrator Pruitt met with East Chicago residents, federal, state and local officials, and pledged improved coordination and communication as cleanup continues. He was the first EPA Administrator to visit this Superfund site, which was listed on the National Priorities List of the worst contaminated sites in the country in 2009.

The delegation of authority memo issued on May 9, 2017, is here:

Full text of Administrator Pruitt’s memo cover letter:

The Superfund program is a vital function of Environmental Protection Agency, and under my administration, Superfund and EPA’s land and water cleanup efforts will be restored to their rightful place at the center of the Agency’s core mission.  As such, in order to facilitate the more-rapid remediation and revitalization of contaminated sites and to promote accountability and consistency in remedy selection, I have issued the accompanying revised CERCLA delegation of authority.  With this revised delegation, authority previously delegated to the Assistant Administrator for Office of Land and Emergency Management and the Regional Administrators to select remedies estimated to cost $50 million or more at sites shall be retained by the Administrator.

The purpose of these revisions is to improve the remedy selection process and to involve the Administrator and the Administrator’s office in this process more directly.  In light of this revised delegation, please take all necessary steps to adjust associated consultations, reviews, and other practices in a manner consistent with the revised delegation.  As part of effectuating this adjustment to the remedy selection process, I ask that you involve the Administrator’s office early-on and throughout the process of developing and evaluating alternatives and remedy selection.  This is particularly important for sites where you anticipate that the preferred remedial alternative and/or the remedy selected in the Record of Decision will be estimated to cost more than $50 million and thus will require the Administrator’s approval and signature of the Record of Decision. It is through this enhanced cooperation and continuous involvement that we will work to revitalize this essential Agency effort while enhancing consistency in remedy selection across States and the Regions.

Please consult the revised delegation for additional information.  The revised delegation is effective immediately.