Closing two of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's 10 regional offices could have "devastating" effects on Chicago, officials said, but the EPA is denying reports that the office responsible for monitoring clean air and water in the Great Lakes region will go anywhere.
"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.
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". "Administrator Pruitt was working for environmental justice by meeting with the real residents affected by lead contamination and by committing to get results".
The agency is also placing a 90-day stay on oil and gas companies complying with the rule, which was one of several President Donald Trump asked the EPA to review in an executive order last month.
Prior to Pruitt's arrival, about 100 residents and activists held a rally and march to demand that the government provide the resources needed to clean up homes and address water and soil contamination. They're calling for additional resources and continued support.More news: Bernie Sanders Kicks Off Cross-Country Tour In Maine
During his visit, Pruitt provided brief comments at a press conference in East Chicago but quickly exited without answering questions from reporters.
Upton's statement said the EPA Region 5 office has spearheaded issues such as the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, the Flint drinking water response, and Superfund sites in Region 5. Officials say two dozen families remain at the 45-year-old complex, which was built on a site once occupied by a lead-products factory. (AP Photo/Teresa Crawford) Residents of East Chicago, Ind., and supporters rally near a public-housing complex Wednesday, April 19, 2017, ahead of a visit by Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt.
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.
Graham McCahan, a lawyer for the Environmental Defense Fund, said the tighter standards are already saving thousands of lives every year. But as Politico reports, Scott Pruitt's moves to destroy the EPA certainly are costing some jobs.