EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt is losing his chief Superfund adviser who had spearheaded efforts to speed the cleanup and redevelopment of toxic sites, a top agency priority.
Albert “Kell” Kelly, Pruitt’s aide and liaison with community groups living near toxic properties, is resigning from his post, the Environmental Protection Agency confirmed May 1. The agency declined to say when he was leaving or who would replace him.
The agency also didn’t provide a reason for Kelly’s departure. His decision to leave came a week after two Virginia Democratic House members, Reps. Don Beyer and Gerald Connolly, asked the EPA’s inspector general to investigate Kelly.
The lawmakers said Kelly lacked a background in environmental protection and cited media reports saying the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation banned Kelly from the banking industry last year.
Pruitt was questioned about Kelly’s prior banking work during a series of April 26 hearings before House committees. Democratic lawmakers wanted to know if Pruitt knew about Kelly’s past before he hired him to run the Superfund program and whether the administrator was keeping Kelly from testifying before Congress.
“I think Mr. Kelly, if he’s willing to share that with you, he should do that,” Pruitt told lawmakers. “And I would encourage him to do so.”
Kelly has spent much of his time at the EPA visiting communities adjacent to Superfund sites and working with agency staff to reform the Superfund program.
In a meeting April 19, Kelly promised community leaders at a Superfund site in New Hampshire that he would visit, Lois Gibbs, founder of the Center for Health, Environment, and Justice, told Bloomberg Environment. It’s unclear whether the EPA will send a representative after Kelly’s departure.
The agency noted in a statement that Peter C. Wright, President Donald Trump’s nominee to head the EPA’s Superfund, waste, and emergency management office, is preparing for Senate confirmation. Wright has served as counsel for Dow Chemical.
—With assistance from Abby Smith.