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Scott Pruitt to East Chicago Residents: Chicago EPA Office Not Closing

21 April 2017, 01:27 | Kevin Scott

To call Wednesday's visit by Scott Pruitt, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, in East Chicago, Indiana, highly anticipated would be putting it mildly.

"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. "Ultimately, city residents - including but not limited to Superfund site residents - need full replacement of their lead service lines at no or greatly reduced cost to them", she wrote. Pruitt is the first EPA administrator to visit the site, according to EPA officials. "At a time when US Steel is carelessly spilling unsafe chemicals into Lake Michigan, we can not turn our back on the Great Lakes and allow the Trump administration to muffle the EPA", Emanuel said. The EPA workers union wants a separate meeting with Pruitt. He then briefly addressed the media but took no questions, saying that the meeting had covered "concrete" steps to be taken to address the city's lead issues in an "efficient and effective way". While visiting a Pennsylvania coal mine, Pruitt announced the new focus "means returning EPA to its core mission: protecting the environment by engaging with state, local, and tribal partners to create sensible regulations that enhance economic growth".

The memo also said the agency plans to continue to maintain a hiring freeze, with "very limited exceptions", even as the government-wide freeze expires.

The EPA is waiting on East Chicago Mayor Anthony Copeland to provide a redevelopment plan for the soon-to-be-demolished site. Evacuations began last summer. 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. "And we air we breathe is contaminated", said Thomas Frank, a resident of the community of roughly 30,000 who lives near the Superfund site.

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The EPA will now review and reconsider revisions on effluent limitations made under the Clean Water Act under the Obama administration in 2015, Pruitt said.

Common sense is finally trumping a job-killing ideology that was allowed to permeate within the federal Environmental Protection Agency over the last eight years.

The pair joined other state and federal officials, including Senators Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) and Todd Young (R-Ind)., meeting with East Chicago officials and community leaders.



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