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Cleanup Will Help Restart Economy After Pandemic, EPA Says (1)

April 22, 2020, 7:16 PMUpdated: April 22, 2020, 8:19 PM

A senior EPA official said the agency and its toxic waste cleanup programs will have a “key role” in restarting the economy after the coronavirus pandemic ends.

Remediation-related construction has continued to some extent during the pandemic, and “I expect it will be key going forward,” said Peter Wright, assistant administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Land and Emergency Management.

Construction work provides “good, well-paying jobs,” Wright said. He spoke at the American Bar Association’s virtual conference on environmental issues in a video posted Wednesday.

“Restarting the economy is going to be critical, and I think the EPA, especially OLEM, will have a key role to play in those efforts,” he said.

‘Important to Economic Recovery’

Construction jobs “can and will be important to economic recovery,” said Bart Seitz, senior counsel at Baker Botts LLP in Washington, D.C.

But, at nearly a dozen Superfund sites where his clients are involved in cleanup, none have seen material delays, Seitz said.

“At most, Covid-19 concerns have caused these actions to have slowed somewhat, but they’ve not been completely suspended,” he said. Because of that, it seems unlikely there would be a sudden resurgence in new or deferred Superfund cleanups, and associated construction, he said.

(Adds comment from Bart Seitz in fifth, sixth and seventh paragraphs.)

To contact the reporter on this story: Sylvia Carignan in Washington at scarignan@bloombergenvironment.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Gregory Henderson at ghenderson@bloombergenvironment.com; Anna Yukhananov at ayukhananov@bloombergenvironment.com

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