President Donald Trump’s nominee to lead the Superfund program says he’ll recuse himself from sites contaminated by his former employer DowDuPont — eleven of which are in Indiana.
For nearly two decades, Peter Wright served as legal counsel for Dow Chemical Company — which merged with DuPont last year. In a statement, he agreed to sell his stock in the company and recuse himself from working on about 300 hazardous waste sites where DowDuPont was a responsible party, until July of 2020.
Jim Barnes teaches environmental law at Indiana University and worked at the EPA for about 20 years. He says he’s pleased that Wright recognized how his connection to DowDuPont might be perceived.
“That is not something that many of the members of the current administration, I think, have been sensitive to,” says Barnes.
Denise Abdul-Rahman, Environmental Climate Justice Chair of Indiana’s NAACP, says she appreciates that Wright is selling his stock — but she's still not sure Wright is the best person for the role. She says residents in East Chicago have faced decades of pollution from DuPont.
“Perhaps our state of Indiana, the area of East Chicago ideally could be better served by a representative that does not have such a background,” she says.
EPA Deputy Assistant Administrators Barry Breen and Steven Cook will handle cases where Peter Wright might have a conflict of interest.
Indiana Environmental reporting is supported by the Environmental Resilience Institute, an Indiana University Grand Challenge project developing Indiana-specific projections and informed responses to problems of environmental change.