EPA Administrator Pruitt Centralizes Superfund Authority for Larger Sites

Posted on Behalf of  Paul Scott

Posted on behalf of the author Paul Scott

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt on May 10, 2017 issued a memorandum revising the existing delegations of authority related to the approval of proposed remedies at Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), or “Superfund” sites. In the memorandum, EPA Administrator Pruitt reserved his authority to make the remedy selection at CERCLA cleanup sites whose Record of Decision (ROD) had a proposed cleanup cost exceeding $50 million.   In the past, remedy selection decisions at these sites were performed by the Assistant Administrator for the Office of Land and Emergency Management and the Regional Administrators.  The stated purpose of Administrator Pruitt's delegation of this authority to his office for these sites was to improve the remedy selection process and to involve the Administrator and his office in the remedy selection process more directly.

This change in remedy selection authority will have a direct impact on contaminated sediment sites where the proposed remedy is often in the hundreds of millions of dollars let alone greater than 50 million dollars.  For most of the major contaminated sediment Superfund sites, the selected remedy will have to be approved by the Administrator instead of by a Regional Administrator or Assistant Administrator for the Office of Land and Emergency Management.  For perspective, the proposed costs for the remedies for the following sediment sites from their respective RODs:

  • Hudson River: $460 million 
  • Passaic River: $1.38 billion 
  • Fox River: $390 million
  • Lower Duwamish River: $342 million
  • Portland Harbor: $1.05 billion


The announcement and a link to the memo are located on the EPA website here.