EPA seeks to derail cleanup of coal power plant pollution


U.S. President Donald Trump speaks between Vice President Mike Pence (L) and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt prior to signing an executive order on "Energy Independence", eliminating Obama-era climate change regulations, during an event at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) headquarters in Washington, U.S., March 28, 2017.

The community is what's a called a legacy contamination site.

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

Some environmental advocates are calling Wednesday's visit a first major test of Pruitt's leadership. "The work we do here is too important to cut", said Michael Mikulka, Chicago chapter president of the American Federation of Government Employees, the union for federal employees. 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. The inspector general further said that the employee only received a conviction of 20 hours of community service, a $2,500 fine and a 21-day suspension.

"They reaffirmed there's no discussion about shutting the Chicago office", Kaplan said.

EPA spokesman J.P. Freire told CNN in an email: "Forget about the politics".

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"These stories are not true, are pure speculation, and undermine our ability to communicate with the public the real information we have", Bob Kaplan, acting regional administrator, wrote in a memo sent to staff on Monday.

As the EPA began remediation work at homes in the Superfund site this week, the federal agency is still reviewing a request to provide water and water filters to East Chicago residents to minimize the affects of lead in their drinking water. This year, IN will distribute filters to all residents IN Zones 2 and 3.

The Chicago-Sun Times recently reported that those cuts would include eliminating the Region 5 office that oversees OH and five other states.

East Chicago, around 25 miles (40 km) outside of Chicago, was home to the now defunct U.S. Smelter and Lead Refinery Inc which contaminated the facility and surrounding areas with lead and arsenic.

The private sector is set to get a big boost under this administration, and the latest talk to limit the power of the public sphere involves pushing legal consideration to outside counsel, potentially bypassing the influence of longtime EPA employees in favor of kowtowing to corporate concerns. "Whatever the deficiencies of the Region 5 office, the folks there do play a critical role in protecting human health and the environment", Upton said in a statement.

Pruitt went on: "Since I was sworn in as administrator, funding has been secured for drinking water infrastructure upgrades in East Chicago, filters and bottled water have been provided to residents and cleanup of contaminated soil has resumed".