Mark N. Templeton on East Chicago Lead Contamination and EPA Budget Cuts
U.S. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt's "Back-to-Basics" tour will touch down tomorrow in East Chicago, Ind., an industrial city in the throes of a lead-contamination crisis.
As EPA's budget is slashed and more work is handed to state agencies, environmentalists and community activists in East Chicago are worried about the Trump administration turning its back on environmental justice. Their concerns rose last month when EPA's top environmental justice official, Mustafa Ali, resigned.
Pruitt's visit to East Chicago offers a chance to address concerns about how EPA will handle pollution in poor communities and to hear from residents worried about the pace and transparency of the cleanup of lead contamination.
East Chicago is a "textbook example of an environmental justice low-income community of color," said Mark Templeton, an associate professor at the University of Chicago Law School who represents local residents in a court battle over the cleanup of the USS Lead Superfund site.
"I would say that I am seriously concerned about the ability of EPA as well as the states to be able to fulfill their responsibilities with the proposed budget cuts," he said.