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EPA to reduce workforce with buyouts, early retirement plan

21 April 2017, 02:45 | Kevin Scott

EPA to reduce workforce with buyouts, early retirement plan

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Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt entered the fire during his Wednesday visit to the Chicago region as he sought to calm anger over proposed EPA budget cuts, including the defunding of the agency's Office of Environmental Justice, and how those cuts would affect clean-up efforts at a Superfund site in East Chicago, Indiana.

They wanted Pruitt to know how EPA cuts could affect the health and safety of their community, according to a report.

Pruitt's visit to the West Calumet housing project in East Chicago, Indiana, was the first he has made as EPA administrator to any of the any of the nation's 1,300 superfund sites.

"The administrator and governor are arriving at a moment where the residents of this city, these cities, literally are watching or witnessing their children being poisoned by lead in the water, heavy metals in the soil, contamination in their homes", Brooks said.

Brooks also cited concerns about rumors the administration also might be considering eliminating two of EPA's regional offices, including the Region 5 office that now is overseeing cleanup efforts in East Chicago.

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But superfund site resident Maritza Lopez welcomed Pruitt's visit. Last week, Scott Pruitt announced a #Back2Basics campaign that proposes returning the EPA to its supposed roots: protecting the environment, spurring job growth, and not burdening industry with rules and regulations. He met with residents and toured the complex where evacuations began a year ago.

Pruitt has criticized the EPA for overreach and Trump's administration has taken steps to roll back environmental regulations. That includes financial help to make sure that happens.

Chanting crowds weaved through streets of East Chicago; some held signs that read "East Chicago Demands Clean Water". Pruitt visited "to discuss cleanup and hear directly from East Chicago residents affected by contamination in their community", the agency said in a press release. The land we walk upon is contaminated. Housing officials said their goal is to move out all families by May.

The Environmental Protection Agency will begin reducing its workforce by offering buyouts to the agency's 15,000 employees after the White House issued an order for agencies to cut down their teams, the Washington Post reports.

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. "There's a hope that actually seeing the problems, meeting the people, seeing their stories and hearing their demands and concerns would turn even the coldest of hearts", Geertsma said.



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