A corporate attorney for Dow Chemical who has devoted much of his professional life to fighting against the cleanup of toxic waste sites in the nation is Donald Trump’s choice to keep watch over the remediation of the nation’s Superfund sites.
This is no surprise from a president who has appointed to his cabinet the men and women most likely to overturn the mission of agencies they’re assigned to lead.
But the man who would Make America Great Again has outdone himself with the nomination of Peter Wright to head up the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Land and Emergency Management, the arm of the EPA charged with cleaning up the most contaminated sites in the country.
And that’s horrible, horrible news for New Jersey, which has more of those sites than any other state.
Dow, the multinational chemical conglomerate, is widely understood to be responsible for more than 100 Superfund sites throughout the nation.
If you live anywhere near Berry’s Creek, which flows through Carlstadt, East Rutherford, Lyndhurst, Moonachie, Rutherford, Teterboro and Wood-Ridge on its way to the Hackensack River, you’re sickeningly familiar with damage inflicted by a mercury-processing plant purchased run by a Dow subsidiary.
The creek is adjacent to the Ventron/Velsicol Superfund site in Wood-Ridge, which Dow has described as one of its “largest potential environmental liabilities.”
The megacorporation was responsible for $80 million worth of remediation on the site as of Dec. 31. It laid out a measly $7 million for those efforts last year. This is chump change compared with the $48.16 billion the company is reported to have made in 2016.
Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club, didn’t mince words in blasting Trump’s move.
“This is one of the worst nominations ever made, by even this president,” Tittel said in a news release. “Wright spent his career fighting to prevent cleanup of toxic sites as a corporate lawyer for Dow Chemical Company. His nomination is a risk to public health and the environment.”
The corporation Wright has donated his life to defending donated $1 million to Trump’s inaugural committee last year, ABC-News reported. In legal terms, res ipsa loquitur: the thing speaks for itself.
With Senate Republicans having perfected the role of Trump toadies, the high-powered lawyer will likely be confirmed, no matter how egregious his conflicts of interests, no matter how loudly our two New Jersey senators call foul.
And Trump’s unholy mission of choosing industry insiders to head the regulatory agencies designed to oversee those industries grinds maddeningly on.