Trump's EPA to reconsider oil and gas emissions rule

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.

In the West Calumet Housing Complex, where 1,000 residents were ordered to leave last summer because of high lead levels in the soil, a group of residents and activists gathered. They called for reassurance of a thorough cleanup, additional testing and long-term support of residents.

Rumors have circulated Pruitt plans to cut the nearby Chicago EPA office and move it to Kansas, but a report stated he had no plans to visit the office and could instead attend a Cubs game.

"He categorically denied that they had any plans to do that", said Thomas Frank, one of five East Chicago residents who met with Pruitt on Wednesday.

"Pruitt, "made commitments that we would have it right", Democratic Senator Joe Donnelly said".

The White House's budget proposal called for the agency to cut 3,200 positions, or about a fifth of its 15,376-person workforce, as of the last fiscal year.

The EPA has not responded to a CNN request for comment. They held signs saying, "East Chicago demands clean water", and "Living wages on a living planet". 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 US safety standard.

According to the EPA release, which contained multiple statements from coal companies that will be benefiting from the new easements on environmental regulations, the "new direction" for the agency (a contradiction that employees and the public alike find confusing) will be focused on transferring responsibility for environmental to state and local partners. Thirteen other families are appealing their relocation offers from the city housing authority or have been given notice to move.

"We can't drink the water".

Resident Demetra Turner, 44, who left Chicago a decade ago for public housing in IN, said she was trying to find safe housing for the two children who live with her.

Trump's budget plan would slash the Environmental Protection Agency's budget by almost a third, including reductions for the agency's enforcement and compliance office and ending the $300 million-a-year Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, among other regional efforts.

The lead-and-arsenic contaminated 346-unit housing complex was built in the early 1970s on the footprint of a former lead smelter.

In a blog post, Meleah Geertsman, a senior attorney in the Natural Resources Defense Council's Midwest program, wrote that "Pruitt has a critical opportunity to make good on his confirmation statement - that EPA should have "acted faster" in Flint - by stepping in to ensure that residents throughout East Chicago have reliable access to drinking water that is not contaminated by lead".

  • Leroy Wright