Washington DC (SC) – Today could have been a big day for Donald Trump’s EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. He scheduled a trip to Chicago, IL and East Chicago, IN, and many people in both communities were eager to see him. However, Pruitt declined to meet with community members in East Chicago speaking out about the environmental justice crises in their neighborhoods and he declined to even walk through the door at the EPA Region V Headquarters office that is reportedly on the chopping block amid massive proposed staff and budget cuts to his own agency that Pruitt is supporting. Ignoring an invitation to visit from his own employees, Pruitt instead reportedly went  to a Chicago Cubs baseball game in the middle of the workday.

Let’s take a look at Pruitt’s day…


10:30 am CT — Environmental Justice advocates and NAACP members in East Chicago invite Pruitt to a roundtable discussion. East Chicago residents are organizing after decades of lead contamination and recent emergency-level displacement from their homes, after a US Steel Lead facility in the neighborhood closed and left the families across the street in the West Calumet housing complex with a toxic legacy in their soil and groundwater that persists today.

Families of the West Calumet housing complex also discovered that their homes were built on top of the remains of the Anaconda lead facility, with lead found in the soil at 228-times the EPA’s cleanup action levels. This contamination has been causing irreversible damage to the health and wellbeing of residents for decades. So, the NAACP and the Twin City Ministerial Alliance held a roundtable discussion to discuss these environmental crises and invited Pruitt. Pruitt didn’t show.

11:00 am CT — Community members from Calumet and neighboring areas rallied in East Chicago to remind Pruitt that they need resources and certainty on adequate and thorough clean-up of their homes, lifelong healthcare for the exposure to contamination they’ve endured, and the right to return to their homes.

“I had no knowledge of the lead and arsenic contamination when I moved here May 2, 2016. There is no way I would have moved into this situation. I’ve been looking for a place since August that is safe, suitable and accepts Section 8 Voucher. My health has gotten worse. My sugar was so high last week that I was hospitalized. I eat right, but it’s all the stress, the bullying of housing authority and trying to find another place. It’s too much,” said Demetra Turner, a West Calumet resident and a member of Community Strategy Group in East Chicago.

12:00pm CT –  Elected officials, EPA employees, and environmental and public health advocates urge Pruitt to stop trying to cut the EPA funding that helps protect the health of communities throughout the midwest.

By DonkeyHotey – Scott Pruitt – Caricature, CC BY-SA 2.0, Wikimedia Commons

12:30pm CT – EPA employees at the Agency’s Region V headquarters are stood up by Pruitt, in spite of their invitation for their own boss to have lunch with them. The Region V office reportedly may close amid Pruitt and Trump’s plans to gut funding and staffing for the EPA.

EPA workers are in the midst of massive clean-up efforts in the Calumet neighborhoods so residents can safely come home, and are particularly concerned with Administrator Scott Pruitt’s support for President Donald Trump’s proposed budget cuts to the EPA, which could hinder this critical work.

AFGE Local 704 – which represents many EPA Region V employees – formally invited Pruitt to lunch. Pruitt didn’t show.

2:30pm CT –  Pruitt reportedly drives by the contaminated area, holds a brief private meeting, delivers a short statement and leaves without taking any questions from reporters. He reportedly has tickets to this afternoon’s Cubs v. Brewers game.

“You can’t beat a day at the ballpark, but Scott Pruitt is striking out when it comes to his job of keeping Americans safe from pollution. If Scott Pruitt were to take the time during his trip to Chicago to meet the women and men of EPA’s regional office here, he would find dedicated professionals who have made it their life’s work to protect us all, but who now are worried about whether they will be able to do their jobs.  Pruitt could learn a lot about the great work EPA has done in our region to clean up the Great Lakes, improve our air quality, encourage clean energy, and created good jobs in clean technologies, and how President Trump’s policies and budget proposal threaten to decimate the EPA and the communities here who depend on it,” said Jack Darin, Director of the Illinois Sierra Club.

This report prepared by Sierra Club