AP FACT CHECK: Pruitt takes credit for Obama-era cleanups

Published 8:06 am Monday, April 30, 2018

WASHINGTON — Scott Pruitt has something to boast about when it comes to the Environmental Protection Agency’s record on cleaning up toxic sites since he took over the agency. But it’s a boast only made possible by achievements of the Obama administration.

A look at his statement on the subject at a House hearing Thursday:

PRUITT: “We have removed over three times the number of polluted sites of contaminated communities across the country as compared to the previous administration for 2017.” — House testimony.

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THE FACTS: He is taking credit for work largely completed when Barack Obama was president.

The EPA declared seven cleanups complete from its Superfund priority list last year, compared with two sites delisted the year before.

But records show that construction work at all seven sites cited by Pruitt’s EPA, such as removing soil or drilling wells to suck out contaminated groundwater, was completed years before Pruitt was confirmed as the agency’s chief in February.

Removing sites from the list is a procedural step that occurs after monitoring data show that remaining levels of harmful contaminates meet cleanup targets, which were often set by the EPA decades ago.

An analysis of EPA records by The Associated Press in January shows that the seven sites delisted last year fell short of the average pace set under the administrations of Obama and George W. Bush, even in their opening years. Pruitt told lawmakers “we are on pace to remove (meaning delist) as many as 10 times the number of polluted sites” in 2018.

Trump’s proposed 2018 budget sought to cut the Superfund program by 30 percent but Congress did not go along. EPA lists more than 1,300 Superfund sites that are at various stages of cleanup.