The Environmental Protection Agency has pledged to add $5 million to the hundreds of millions already allocated to cleaning up toxic mining waste in Oklahoma. The money is being awarded to the Quapaw Tribe in the form of a grant, and it will be used to clean up tribal lands within the Tar Creek Superfund site. The pledge was announced by the federal agency in a May 18 press release.
The chairman of the Quapaw Tribe responded to the news warmly and vowed to use the money wisely. He also lavished praise on the EPA and said that he looked forward to working with its recently appointed administrator Scott Pruitt. Pruitt has previously called for less restrictive environmental regulations and a far leaner EPA.
Picher was once one of the world's largest explorers of lead and zinc, but it is now considered one of the most toxic cities in America. The EPA declared the area a Superfund hazardous waste site in the 1970s when mining operations closed down, and cleanup crews were tasked with removing huge piles of lead mining residue known as chat. More than $300 million has been poured into the cleanup effort so far, and reports indicate that approximately 600 acres of once-contaminated land are now once again fit for use.
While environmental problems in urban centers are often tackled quickly by closing down polluting businesses or introducing more rigid regulations, rural areas sometimes suffer for years before any serious action is taken. Experienced agricultural attorneys may understand the concerns of rural residents and their frustrations when little is done to address them, and they could advocate vigorously on their behalf when their lives have been impacted by the negligent actions of others.
Source: Business Insider, "Scott Pruitt's first 100 days at the EPA have shown he's unlike any former chief", Rafi Letzter, May 21, 2017