Weakening Methane Rule Would Come at Cost to Climate, Health

Toby Manning
April 21, 2017

Noting his first tour of a superfund site since being appointed the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt promised new action for residents in the in city grappling with a lead contamination crisis.

"Please know that it's the EPA's objective, my objective as the administrator of the EPA, to come in and make sure that people's health is protected here in East Chicago and that they can have confidence that their land, their health is going to be secure for the long term", Pruitt said.

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.

"Any attempt by this administration to close any US EPA regional office will further cripple environmental protection efforts, while also sending a clear signal to polluters to further contaminate the Chesapeake Bay, Great Lakes, Puget Sound, as well as our rivers, streams and wetlands", said American Federation of Government Employees Local 704 President John O'Grady, whose union represents EPA employees.

But superfund site resident Maritza Lopez welcomed Pruitt's visit.

The EPA began conducting soil tests at the site in late 2009 and finally reached a consent decree with the liable companies in 2014.

NAACP President Cornell Williams Brooks said Pruitt and Gov. Eric Holcomb arrived Wednesday to address an environmental crisis "40 years in the making" in East Chicago, but President Donald Trump's budget plan contemplates gutting the EPA. Administrator Scott Pruitt is headed to the Chicago area this week to discuss ways of cleaning up the area's Superfund site.

Demonstrators rallied in the lead-contaminated community to protest Pruitt's visit.

The Trump administration's proposed budget calls for a 31% cut to the budget, including cuts to the agency's environmental justice program.

They said they've only gotten "non-denials" in response.

Chanting crowds weaved through streets of East Chicago on Wednesday near a Superfund site.

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

Eleven of the remaining families have found new homes and are in the process of moving, according to HUD.

"Keep fighting people, keep fighting, because that is what it takes", she said.

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

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt has told oil and gas industry leaders that the agency will reconsider its methane emissions rule, a move likely to be decried by environmentalists.

The head of the Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday would not address rumors about whether Chicago's regional office would be closed - even as the head of that office issued a memo calling the reports "pure speculation".

Other reports by VgToday

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