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Acting Administrator Wheeler Completes Western Swing

09/10/2018
Contact Information: 
EPA Press Office (press@epa.gov )

DENVER — Today, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler completed his tour of Montana and Colorado where he visited various Superfund sites, public lands, tribal leaders, and met with EPA staff in Region 8.

He began his visit on Friday touring the Butte and Anaconda Superfund sites in Montana with U.S. Senator Steve Daines, making Administrator Wheeler the first EPA Administrator to visit both sites in 28 years. On Saturday, he met with the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes (CSKT) and Blackfeet Tribal leaders, the first EPA Administrator to meet with these tribes. Then on Sunday, he visited the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge and the Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge to commemorate the progress made at both sites. Finally, on Monday he visited EPA Region 8 office in Denver to meet with EPA staff and union leadership.

“This historic visit reflects EPA’s commitment to listen to and work with all states, tribes, and stakeholders, regardless of their zip code,” said EPA Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “We are making tremendous progress in the Superfund program thanks to the efforts of EPA staff, concerned citizens, and the regulated community, and these productive dialogues will only improve those efforts going forward.” . 

On Friday, Administrator Wheeler visited the Silver Bow Creek / Butte Area Superfund site in Montana where he toured the Berkeley Pit with local leadership. Afterward, he held a roundtable discussion with residents and community activists impacted by the site, where he heard firsthand about the progress being made on the site and what can be done to improve the surrounding area. Following the Butte visit, Administrator Wheeler traveled to the Anaconda Smelter Superfund site, and met with local residents and officials involved in remediating the site at a roundtable.

“One of my first requests to this administration was to have an EPA Administrator come out to Montana, to come to Butte and Anaconda, and see the impacts the communities face firsthand. I’m grateful that EPA Administrator Wheeler came out to visit these sites,” said U.S. Senator Steve Daines. “Thankfully, under this administration and Administrator Wheeler, we’re seeing less talk and more action, and that’s a good thing. We need to build on this momentum and keep the pressure on to see these sites cleaned up once and for all. I look forward to working with Administrator Wheeler to finalize cleanup of the Butte and Anaconda Superfund sites for the sake of the impacted communities and families, the prosperity of the local economies, and most importantly, human health and the environment.”

On Saturday, Administrator Wheeler met with the CSKT leadership and discussed the work they are doing to improve water quality for their tribes. This was followed by a presentation of issues surrounding the ecosystem in Flathead Lake, and the efforts the tribes are making to prevent invasive wildlife and plants from disturbing natural habitat. 

“The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes were honored to be the first Indian Reservation visit for Mr. Wheeler in his new appointment,” said CSKT Council Vice Chair Leonard Gray. “His visit allowed our staff to engage in a sincere and honest discussion on environmental protection concerns that will help improve communications between our agencies. We look forward to future exchanges.”

"On behalf of the Blackfeet Tribal Business Council, we would like to express our gratitude to the Acting EPA Administrator and his staff for EPA's efforts to partner with our tribe to address our unique environmental concerns and for the sincere commitment to strengthen this relationship," said TImothy F. Davis, Chairman of the Blackfeet Tribal Business Council. 

On Sunday, Administrator Wheeler traveled to Colorado and visited Superfund sites near the Denver area. First, he visited the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge and witnessed the progress that’s been made to restore the site for human and wildlife use. Following this visit, Administrator Wheeler traveled to Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge to observe a soon-to-be-opened 10.3 mile trail system on the property. The cleanup and reuse of these sites exemplify what EPA hopes to accomplish with all Superfund sites. 

"Touring both sites today was a reminder of how state and federal agencies can work together to benefit the public. It was combined effort that turned these two Colorado Superfund sites -- covering more than 22,000 acres -- into wildlife refuges and hiking trails the public can enjoy," said Martha Rudolph, director of environmental programs at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

Finally, on Monday morning Administrator Wheeler visited the EPA Region 8 office to meet with union and senior leadership, before addressing staff at an all-hands meeting. 

“I appreciate the opportunity to work with the local officials, leaders, and individuals we met over the weekend in Butte, Anaconda and Denver. They are passionate about the West and the future of their communities,” said EPA Regional Administrator Doug Benevento. “The sites Administrator Wheeler and I visited reflect EPA’s renewed commitment to making our Superfund program a priority. We will continue to work with our partners to deliver effective cleanup actions that secure public health and revitalize our communities.”

Acting Administrator Wheeler, September 10, 2018EPA Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler and U.S. Senator Steve Daines hold roundtable with Superfund stakeholders in Butte.  

Administrator Wheeler and Senator Daines tour slag canyons in Bute.  Administrator Wheeler and Senator Daines tour slag canyons in Butte.    

Acting Administrator Wheeler, September 10, 2018Administrator Wheeler is briefed by leaders of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes (CSKT) on issues surrounding the ecosystem in Flathead Lake.

Acting Administrator Wheeler, September 10, 2018Administrator Wheeler tours the the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge near Denver. 

Acting Administrator Wheeler, September 10, 2018Administrator Wheeler tours the Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge near Denver. 

Acting Administrator Wheeler, September 10, 2018Administrator Wheeler addresses Region 8 staff in Denver.