Protesters march before EPA chief Indiana visit

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will reconsider a rule on greenhouse gas emissions from oil and gas operations and delay its compliance date, the agency said on Wednesday in the Trump administration's latest move to reduce regulations. Also, Trump has proposed eliminating EPA's budget by almost one-third.

The report comes at a time when the Trump administration's preliminary budget plans are already causing concerns as to what could happen to the EPA and its effect on the Midwest.

"While these reports have yet to be confirmed, I am gravely concerned with any effort to potentially close the Environmental Protection Agency's regional office, which would be a disaster for the Great Lakes. At a time when US Steel is carelessly spilling risky chemicals into Lake Michigan, we can not turn our back on the Great Lakes and allow the Trump administration to muffle the EPA", Emanuel said. "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.

"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 I talked to some of the people traveling with the administrator today - they have reaffirmed that there were no discussions about shutting the Chicago office", Kaplan said. Rumors of the office's closure prompted the union and elected officials to hold a press conference Wednesday, speaking out against any cuts.

EPA spokesman J.P Freire called the reports "a hoax". Administrator Scott Pruitt is headed to the Chicago area this week to discuss ways of cleaning up the area's Superfund site.

Activists protested Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt during a visit to a superfund site in East Chicago, Indiana, on Wednesday, April 19.

The EPA's Region 5 covers Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin and, under the plan as reported by the Sun-Times, it would be consolidated with Region 7, covering Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska and Missouri.

Among other cuts, the budget would eliminate funding for the $300 million Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and cut funding for hazardous waste cleanup at Superfund sites by 30 percent.

"In fact, it was my bipartisan legislation that would help make important reforms". 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.

John O'Grady, president of AFGE Council 238, the union that represents EPA employees, said: "This Administration wants to cut at least 3,100 full-time employees, yet the March 21, 2017, budget document indicates cuts as high as 4,000 full-time employees". Pruitt said the EPA will take steps to restore the public's confidence, but he did not offer specifics.

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