EPA launches Mountains, Deserts, Plains Office in Colorado
Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler announced this month that EPA has created an Office of Mountains, Deserts and Plains located in its office in Lakewood, Colo.
“This western lands-focused office will address cross-cutting issues unique to the region, and more effectively leverage existing EPA staff, expertise and resources in hardrock mining cleanup,” EPA said in a news release.
“The West is a special place, with special environmental challenges deserving of its own office within EPA,” Wheeler said. “Under President [Donald] Trump’s leadership, this new office will provide effective solutions, and achieve important milestones in the cleanup of hardrock mining Superfund sites in the American West as well as foster great partnerships with states, tribes and local communities. Done are the days of a one-size-fits-all approach to remediation.”
“The Office of Mountains, Deserts and Plains will ensure we are making progress cleaning up mining sites across the West, promote Good Samaritan projects, identify innovative cleanup technologies, and oversee the cleanup of abandoned uranium mines in the Navajo Nation,” said EPA Associate Deputy Administrator Doug Benevento.
“This uniquely western work needs an integrated western presence, and Administrator Wheeler should be commended for recognizing this and creating this new geographic program in Colorado. Addressing these issues requires an office with a singular focus and senior leadership who don’t see these issues in the abstract, but are actually located in the West and accessible to the communities impacted by them.”
“The importance of mining to our economy and national security cannot be underestimated, and today’s American mining industry is a world leader in environmental stewardship,” said Region 8 Administrator Greg Sopkin.
“However, many Western communities are still dealing with historic mining sites that affect the health of our lands and waters. This new office will leverage innovative technologies and strategies to address these legacy mining issues.”
The director of the Office of Mountains, Deserts and Plains will report directly to Peter Wright, the assistant administrator for land and emergency management. The office will employ five to nine full-time employees at the Denver Federal Center in Lakewood, Colo. ❖
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