Environmental Protection Agency

Despite Efforts To Stop Drift, Dicamba Complaints Up

Jul 12, 2018

Half way through the year, complaints about the weed killer dicamba are increasing. This could mean efforts to stop the chemical from drifting across property lines aren’t working. 

At a press conference environmentalists and others opposed the EPA's plans to roll back clean car standards (Rebecca Thiele/IPB News)
Lauren Chapman

A former Environmental Protection Agency employee, two Indiana lawmakers, and environmentalists opposed the EPA’s plans to change clean car standards at a press conference Monday. The standards require new cars and light trucks build after 2025 to get about 50 miles to the gallon.

Indiana is one of 15 states that pushed for a federal district court to dismiss a lawsuit against oil and gas companies that contribute to climate issues. The states got their wish this week. 

(U.S. EPA)
Lauren Chapman

The region of the Environmental Protection Agency that includes Indiana has lost more than 100 employees since President Donald Trump’s election. A union that represents EPA Region 5 says that means there are fewer watchdogs in the Midwest. 

Ethanol Groups Sue EPA Over Oil Refinery Waivers

May 31, 2018

Pro-ethanol groups are suing the Environmental Protection Agency for granting Renewable Fuel Standard exemptions to three oil refineries — which means those refineries don’t have to add the required amount of ethanol to their gas. 

The Environmental Protection Agency recently declared a Superfund site in Spencer because of contaminated groundwater. But town officials say the water is safe to drink.

The Franklin Street Groundwater site is contaminated with PCE — a chemical the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says likely causes cancer. It’s used in dry cleaning or to get grease off metal. The EPA put the Franklin Street site on its priority list last week.

The Environmental Protection Agency visited East Chicago, Indiana, Saturday, to update residents on contamination cleanup.

EPA Region 5 Administrator Cathy Stepp and U.S. EPA senior advisor Albert Kelly attended the briefing and listened to public comment.

Residents heard updates from the on-site remediation coordinators and participated in, sometimes heated, Q&A sessions. Those comments were heard loud and clear, says Kelly.

Rep. Carey Hamilton (D-Indianapolis) calls on Indiana delegates to oppose budget cuts to the EPA. (Jill Sheridan/IPB News)
Lauren Chapman

  

Community leaders gathered at the Statehouse Tuesday to speak out against proposed federal cuts to environmental protection programs. They focused on concerns for public health. President Donald Trump's proposed budget would cut Environmental Protection Agency funding by about 23 percent. 

Community leaders called on Indiana's Congressional representatives to oppose the cuts ahead of the approval deadline.

NASA

In 2017, President Trump proposed cutting $300 million for Great Lakes projects. That money stayed in the federal budget, but as a new year begins, environmental advocates have lots of concerns – including cuts to the EPA. 

Groups throughout the region plan to take the fate of the Great Lakes into their own hands in 2018.

This means working with communities on climate change and collaborating to clean up polluted waters.

The cleanup for part of an East Chicago, Indiana toxic waste site will cost nearly four times more than originally expected. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which oversees the site’s cleanup, will open an opportunity for public comments Monday, Dec. 18.

The EPA initially estimated cleanup for the residential area of the USS Lead Superfund site would cost $23 million. But, a new agency report says the estimate should be closer to $85 million.

Farmers Seek Delay For Hazardous Air Emission Rule

Nov 14, 2017

Chicken and hog farmers want a federal court to delay a rule that would require they report certain hazardous air emissions from manure pits, but Hoosier farmers aren’t sure how they’d comply with the rule if it goes into effect.

A federal court ruled last April farms were not exempt from a 2008 Environmental Protection Agency rule regulating hazardous air emissions. The ruling takes effect Nov. 15, but Indiana Pork Producers executive director Josh Trenary says the EPA and ag industry groups want a delay.

Indiana has begun planning how to use its $40.9 million portion of the Volkswagen pollution settlement.

The Indiana Department of Environmental Management, or IDEM, wants public input on a plan to pay to upgrade diesel equipment in places with severe emissions.

VW admitted last year to tampering with emissions equipment in 600,000 of its cars sold in the U.S. The company’s $2.7 billion Clean Air Act settlement includes money for states to offset pollution from the altered cars.

Farmers in Indiana and across the nation are using more of a powerful, but controversial, weed killer this year — dicamba.

Dicamba has been used since at least the 1960s, mostly on corn. Last year, though, the Environmental Protection Agency approved a new type of dicamba to use on cotton and soybean plants genetically engineered to resist the weed killer.

Don Lamb, who operates an 8,800 acre farm in Lebanon, says the new dicamba has created a problem.

Three top federal officials visited Indiana in August: Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, and Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue.

The trips were tightly scripted and large parts were closed to the public.

While federal officials have visited Indiana in the past, there has been an uptick in visits since President Donald Trump took office.

Indiana stands to lose out if Congress approves proposed budget cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency, says environmentalists, scientists, EPA staffers, and Indiana residents.

The cuts could affect drinking water infrastructure, burden the state’s environmental regulatory agency, and hinder efforts to clean up industrial toxic waste sites.

Federal housing officials will hold a public hearing Monday night on plans to tear down a lead-contaminated public housing complex in East Chicago. The demolition plan got federal environmental approval last month, but residents want a chance to raise concerns.

Residents from the West Calumet Housing Complex area wrote to the Department of Housing and Urban Development this month. They asked for a public hearing and more time to comment on the demolition plan.

Gov. Eric Holcomb signed a bill Thursday providing aid for a lead contaminated neighborhood in East Chicago, Indiana.

House Bill 1344 expands lead testing in the soil and water of the USS Lead Superfund site in East Chicago. At the bill signing in East Chicago, Holcomb says nothing could be more important than getting the city back on track.

“From the street to your Statehouse to the White House, we are going to make sure East Chicago stays on track,” says Holcomb.

Keesha Daniels just moved from one lead contaminated neighborhood to another.

Both her new house and her old West Calumet Housing Complex apartment sit within East Chicago’s USS Lead Superfund site. The city is tearing down her old home because of extremely high levels of lead in the soil. So she had to move.

Daniels is still unpacking. Most rooms have a pile of boxes stacked tidily in a corner. Two heavy dressers sit in one otherwise empty room — her sons are coming later to move them. As Daniels takes me on a tour of her new house, she offers me some water.

Environmental Activists take a wait and see approach to promises of help from the Environmental Protection Agency. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt made a visit to East Chicago this week, as Lakeshore Public Radio's Steven Lattimore reports...

U.S. Steel Chemical Spill Threatens Lake Michigan

Apr 12, 2017

The Environmental Protection Agency is responding to a chemical spill, which threatens beaches and the nearest public water intake, from the U.S. Steel facility in Portage.

US Steel reported Tuesday the wastewater spill into Burns Waterway, about 100 yards away from Lake Michigan. In a statement released late Wednesday, U.S. Steel says the spill resulted from an equipment failure and it has idled all production processes at the facility.

The Environmental Protection Agency and East Chicago’s mayor remain at a standstill over the future of a lead-contaminated public housing complex.

After Mayor Anthony Copeland doubled down on his insistence that the EPA clean West Calumet Housing Complex to a residential standard, the EPA has maintained it can’t move forward with cleanup until it gets more information from the city.

Dozens of families are still living in East Chicago’s lead-contaminated West Calumet Housing Complex, a week after the city had wanted everyone moved out.

In late March, the East Chicago Housing Authority assigned remaining West Calumet residents to temporary public housing units elsewhere in the city, as well as in Gary and Chicago.

Environmental Protection Agency representatives fielded questions over the weekend about clean-up of a lead-contaminated Superfund site in East Chicago, Indiana.

Most of the questions centered around identifying contractors, the timeline of work, and details of what remediation entails. On March 21, the EPA announced a new settlement to pay for clean-up efforts in Zones 2 and 3 of the Superfund.