In the 1980s, the U.S. government along with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) created the Superfund Program to clean up thousands of toxic sites from chemical spills, mines, and factory toxic waste across the country.
No company has been more entangled with the EPA and Superfund than Dow, one of the world’s largest chemical companies responsible for everything from Saran Wrap to mustard gas.
Dow is potentially responsible for at least 14 percent of the Superfund cleanup sites the EPA has classified as a priority, accounting for 171 toxic areas in the United States, according to the New York Times .
One of DOW’s biggest offenses includes the contamination of more than 50 miles of the Tittabawassee River in Midland Michigan, home of the chemical giant’s headquarters.
Clean up efforts have only just begun along the Tittabawassee River and no one can say for sure when the project will be done.
Years of pushback on behalf of DOW, and reports that the company mislead the public, skewed data, and delayed cleanup stalled any progress on the Midland cleanup project.
Now, one of the lawyers who spent years working for DOW and who was a lead negotiator in talks with the EPA during the Midland cleanup case is slated to be the next EPA Lawyer in charge of overseeing the Superfund program.
In March, Donald Trump nominated former Dow Chemicals lawyer Peter Wright to lead the Superfund program.
Wright is currently working in an advisory capacity to the EPA, according to the New York Times, awaiting congressional approval before he can officially take over Superfund.
The nomination has raised many concerns and more than a few red flags due to Wright’s long history working with DOW.
DOW’ slow progress in addressing and dealing with the Midland cleanup has been cited as one of the biggest conflicts of interest in nominating Wright to the EPA.
Christine Todd, the leader of the EPA under President George W. Bush told the New York Times that Wright’s nomination “raises all kinds of red flags, and it makes his job more difficult in the sense that he will be watched every second.”
There are others who list Wright’s former work with DOW as reasons why he is the right pick for the job.
After former head of the E.P.A Scott Pruitt resigned amidst a host of ethics violations, the government agency is now in the spotlight and Wright’s nomination doesn’t seem to be doing much to restore confidence in the agency, in Superfund, or Trump’s cabinet picks.
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