EPA to reduce workforce with buyouts, early retirement plan

Lucy Hill
April 20, 2017

The EPA said in a statement that it would delay the rule's June 3 compliance date by 90 days and take public comments during that period.

The visit comes amid reports that two regional offices, including the Region 5 office in Chicago, would be axed by President Donald Trump's administration - and office employees held a news conference to say they've already been cut to the bone. Career EPA employees have raised concerns about proposed staff cuts and plans to undo some environmental protection regulations under the leadership of new EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. The story prompted the union for EPA employees in the Great Lakes region to ask EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt for a meeting when he was in the area.

Trump's budget plan would slash the Environmental Protection Agency's budget by almost a third, including reductions for the agency's enforcement and compliance office and ending the $300 million-a-year Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, among other regional efforts.

Residents of the complex and environmental activists protested ahead of his visit.

He toured a housing complex built on the Superfund site where around 1,000 residents had to leave their homes earlier this year due to lead contamination.

"Closing the EPA's regional office is misguided and would jeopardize federal resources to help Flint recover from the water crisis and protect the Great Lakes from harm", Kildee said.

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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 agency has been investigating lead contamination in Pilsen since 2011, when the EPA became involved with a cleanup at the former Loewenthal lead factory.

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

"We can't drink the water". Thirteen other families are appealing their relocation offers from the city housing authority or have been given notice to move. "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.

An U.S. Environmental Protection Agency sign at a cleanup at the Lowenthal lead factory site in Pilsen.

"The reason I'm here is that it's important that we restore confidence to people here in this community that we're going to get it right", Pruitt said. The Agency's press release quoted Pruitt saying: "I'm focused on getting EPA back to the basics of protecting human health and the environment, and one of my top priorities is delivering real results for the people of East Chicago'".

Other reports by TheDailyFarc

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