Polymer network captures drinking water contaminant

Read the full story in Chemical & Engineering News.

Long-chain perfluorinated chemicals contaminate millions of Americans’ drinking water. These compounds are a legacy of industrial pollution and the use of firefighting foam at military bases and airports; they persist in the environment because of their strong carbon-fluorine bonds. Now scientists have designed a cross-linked polymer that might more effectively remove one of the more prevalent and harmful of these compounds, perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) (J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2017, DOI: 10.1021/jacs.7b02381).

Scott Pruitt vows to speed the nation’s Superfund cleanups. Communities wonder how.

Read the full story in the Washington Post.

In Bridgeton and elsewhere, others are asking similar questions with various degrees of hope and hesi­ta­tion. In his previous role as Oklahoma’s attorney general, Pruitt had long-standing ties to oil and gas companies and a litigious history fighting the EPA. And although he has called the federal Superfund program “vital” and a “cornerstone” of the EPA’s mission, the Trump administration has proposed slashing its funding by 30 percent.

Underserved Twin Cities neighborhoods to benefit from EPA grant

Read the full story from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.

A $300,000 federal grant may help pump economic life into some formerly polluted lands in the Twin Cities area. On May 31, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) selected the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) to receive $300,000 in funding for brownfields site revitalization. The funds will be used to help assess, cleanup and redevelop vacant and unused properties in underserved neighborhoods in the Twin Cities region.

Donald Trump’s Pick for EPA Enforcement Office Was a Lobbyist for Superfund Polluters

Read the full story at The Intercept.

Albert Kelly, whom Pruitt announced May 22 as his choice to chair the Superfund Task Force, is an Oklahoma banker who has no prior experience with the program or with environmental issues at all, according to his résumé. Kelly, who has donated twice to Pruitt’s campaigns in Oklahoma, has spent the past 33 years working at Spiritbank, which is headquartered in Tulsa, and most recently served as its chairman. The “core competencies” listed on his résumé, which The Intercept obtained by FOIA, include motivational speaking, business development, and “political activity.”

Meanwhile, Susan Bodine, whom Trump nominated on May 12 to be assistant administrator for the EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance, does have plenty of experience with environmental issues — though most of it representing polluting industries. According to her LinkedIn account, from 2009 until 2015, Bodine was a partner at Barnes & Thornburg LLP, the same firm that is representing FRRC, the group of industries directly affected by EPA cleanup rules. While at Barnes & Thornburg, Bodine represented the American Forest and Paper Association from 2011 to 2014. Member companies in that industry group have hundreds of EPA enforcement actions against them, including violations of the Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act.

EPA head says he wants to ‘prioritize’ Superfund cleanups

Read the full story from the Washington Post.

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt says he plans to prioritize the agency’s Superfund cleanups, even as the Trump administration seeks deep cuts to the program responsible for restoring the nation’s most polluted sites.

University of Minnesota researchers invent nano-sponge to soak up pollution

Read the full story in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

Researchers at the University of Minnesota reported recently that they have developed a way to use one of the most common of all cleaning tools to remove one of the most toxic and widespread pollutants from contaminated water. Their breakthrough: They permeate the sponge with the natural element selenium by growing it inside from the atom level on up. Soak the sponge in contaminated water, the mercury binds with the selenium, and the water is essentially purified.