Protesters march before EPA boss visits IN lead cleanup site

Ashley Carr
April 20, 2017

Eric Holcomb, a Republican, and Mayor Anthony Copeland, a Democrat, accompanied Pruitt, who toured the site and heard from residents.

Columnist Michael Sneed for the Chicago Sun-Times quoted an unnamed "city source" in reporting today that President Donald Trump's administration could be looking at closing the Chicago regional office as part of its budget cuts to the EPA and consolidating operations near Kansas City.

Really, Scott Pruitt? Western Pennsylvanians know enough to recognize when you are blowing (coal) dust when you declare that "the war on coal is done" ("EPA's Pruitt Says He'll Be a Friend to Coal", April 14).

"The reason I'm here is because it's important that we restore confidence to the people here in this community that we're going to get it right", he said in a roughly 90-second statement to reporters.

Residents of the housing complex in IN were joined by environmental activists as they protested nearby before Pruitt arrived.

An EPA employees union criticized Pruitt for the proposed cuts ahead of the visit, saying the agency is already at "bare-bones levels" and that further reductions would threaten public health. Those demands include: Oversight of East Chicago's ongoing attempts to improve its corrosion control treatment; expanded blood-lead level testing of children under age 7; bottled water and home water filtration systems to residents throughout the city and testing the city's drinking water to determine the extent of the contamination.

Pruitt has been the main proponent of the Trump administration's proposed 31 percent across-the-board EPA cuts, the union said.

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Lead pollution has endangered families, slashed property values and forced some residents to evacuate their homes. Officials say two dozen families remain at the 45-year-old complex, which was built on a site once occupied by a lead-products factory.

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.

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt joined IN leaders including Gov. Eric Holcomb, U.S. Sens.

One week ago, the local chapter of the NAACP said it invited Pruitt to a roundtable discussion on environmental justice, which happened Wednesday morning.

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.

Scott Pruitt, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), has called for the United States to withdraw from the Paris agreement, because of course he has.

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