Trump’s EPA To Reconsider Oil And Gas Emissions Rule
Scott Pruitt’s visit to East Chicago, Indiana, came a day after the agency denied a report that it was considering closing its Chicago office, which oversees regional environmental protection efforts, including the Flint, Michigan drinking water clean-up and Great Lakes restoration.
While in town, Pruitt toured the epicenter of its lead crisis, the West Calumet housing complex.
Residents and environmentalists are calling for more support and testing.
Prior to his appointment by President Donald Trump to serve as the nation’s chief environmental regulator, Pruitt was attorney general of Oklahoma and closely aligned with the state’s oil and gas industry.
As for any plans to close the Chicago office, Robert Kaplan, the EPA’s acting Region 5 administrator, called the reports “not true” and “pure speculation” in an email to employees. The EPA workers union wants a separate meeting with Pruitt.
Barbara Bolling-Williams, state president of the IN branch of the NAACP, said she is cautiously optimistic following Pruitt’s visit, but added that his visit comes with the threat of “a skinnier EPA budget, fewer regulations – and rumors Chicago’s regional EPA office could be shut down looms IN the background”. More than one thousand people were forced to evacuate, according to Debbie Chizewer at Northwestern Law School, who has worked very closely with the affected residents.
The Trump administration’s proposed budget included a 31 percent funding cut to the EPA and a 3,200-person reduction in its workforce.
EPA began a cleanup past year of lead- and arsenic-contaminated soil in the Superfund site, which includes the entire Calumet neighborhood. Officials began evacuating the 45-year-old complex, built on a site previously occupied by a lead-products factory, after soil tests found some yards with lead levels over 70 times the USA safety standard. Lead exposure, even at low levels, can cause nervous system damage and lowered IQs.
“We can’t drink the water”.
Instead of an executive order rolling back regulations requiring corporations to prevent contaminating the air, water and soil, Trump should issue an executive order protecting the residents of “Main Street” who are dealing with the consequences of lax environmental regulations, Brooks said.
NAACP President Cornell Brooks, members of his organization’s IN chapter and East Chicago community leaders wrote a list of demands to present at that meeting. Thirteen other families are appealing their relocation offers from the city housing authority or have been given notice to move.
Some residents of a lead-contaminated public housing complex in northwest in welcomed a visit from the new head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday, while a union representing EPA workers in Chicago criticized Administrator Scott Pruitt for not meeting with staff amid rumors that their regional office may be closed.
“We are truly in the fight of our lives”, she said.