Federal officials touring a lead-contaminated East Chicago neighborhood on Wednesday downplayed the Trump administration's proposed cuts to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and said there are no plans to close its Chicago regional office.
"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.
She said her organization wants to see the EPA do more to protect the East Chicago community. Pruitt, during his brief remarks, did not comment on any proposed cuts to the EPA but instead pledged his agency's support for East Chicago. The story prompted the union for EPA employees in the Great Lakes region to ask EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt for a meeting when he was in the area.
The Washington Post in March detailed some plans for the EPA that were ordered by the Office of Management and Budget, including laying off 25 percent of its employees and ending 56 programs.
Pruitt toured the West Calumet Housing Complex, a public housing complex, alongside Gov. Eric Holcomb who approved a disaster declaration for the city just weeks after taking office.
The rule would have required utilities by next year to cut the amounts of toxic heavy metals in the wastewater piped from their plants into rivers and lakes often used as sources of drinking water.
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Republican and Democratic lawmakers representing the Midwestern states around the Great Lakes raised concerns over the past two days after a report by the Chicago Sun-Times newspaper that the EPA was considering closing its Region 5 office.
Administrator Scott Pruitt will join IN leaders including Gov. Eric Holcomb IN East Chicago. There are proven, low-priced ways to capture methane instead of letting it pollute our air, and the last administration put in place standards to make sure we do just that. They chanted and held signs reading, "East Chicago Demands Clean Water".
O'Grady, standing with Schakowsky and Krishnamoorthi, said such huge cuts would mean fewer EPA employees in the field to test water, air and soil - meaning less data and less ability to enforce existing laws.
Eleven of the remaining families have found new homes and are in the process of moving, according to HUD.
Residents of a lead-contaminated public-housing complex in IN and environmental activists are protesting ahead of a visit by the head of the Environmental Protection Agency.
"We are truly in the fight of our lives", she said.