Wednesday, 26 April, 2017

Trump's EPA to reconsider oil and gas emissions rule

Debra Rodriguez | 20 April, 2017, 06:15

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency officials on Tuesday denied reports the agency will close the office in Chicago that oversees regional environmental protection efforts including the Flint, Michigan drinking water clean-up and Great Lakes restoration.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Wednesday said it would begin a review of an Obama administration rule limiting methane emissions at oil and gas drilling sites.

Scott Pruitt, the EPA chief in the administration of Republican President Donald Trump, joined dozens of other states in challenging the rule when he was attorney general of oil-producing Oklahoma.

Barbara Bolling-Williams, state president of the IN branch of the NAACP, said she is cautiously optimistic following Pruitt's visit, but added that his visit comes with the threat of "a skinnier EPA budget, fewer regulations - and rumors Chicago's regional EPA office could be shut down looms IN the background".

This office is responsible for holding the companies accountable for their share of the cleanup, such as a 2014 action that forced Atlantic Richfield and DuPont to spend an estimated $21 million at the East Chicago Superfund site.

Michelle Robinson, director of the clean vehicles program at the Union of Concerned Scientists, said EPA was favoring industry over science. The union hopes Pruitt agrees to commit more resources to the lead cleanup effort there.

EPA began a cleanup previous year of lead- and arsenic-contaminated soil in the Superfund site, which includes the entire Calumet neighborhood.

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

The White House budget proposal submitted to Congress last month includes a 31 percent cut in spending for the EPA, including a similar reduction of the agency's Hazardous Substance Superfund Account by $330 million to $762 million. Another 3,000 residents living in Zone 2 and 3 of the superfund site were not told to relocate. Housing officials said their goal is to move out all families by May. "We want to show him how these vulnerable populations have a received a high concentration of these contaminants from what I would call environmentally criminal industries".

"We can't drink the water". It may not have been his intention, but he's showing the whole country how much we need an EPA strong enough to protect our health and to fight back against big polluters.

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. Pruitt was scheduled to to tour the complex where roughly 1,000 people were ordered evacuated because of lead contamination.

"EPA is continuing to follow through with President Trump's Energy Independence Executive Order", EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said in a statement.

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