Last Tuesday a U.S. Steel facility in Portage, Indiana released hexavalent chromium into the Burns Waterway. This waterway is within 100 years of of Lake Michigan, and has resulted in a number of beach closings, though the EPA hasn’t confirmed any contamination on public beaches.
Although local groups have claimed to have found traces of hexavalent chromium on the beaches, we are left to wonder if there would be an official action if the EPA finds contamination.
In a string of recent public appearances the new head of the EPA, Scott Pruitt, has dedicated himself to “refocusing” the agency around a business friendly philosophy.
“The coal industry was nearly devastated by years of regulatory overreach, but with new direction from President Trump, we are helping to turn things around for these miners and for many other hardworking Americans,” Pruitt exclaimed recently at a coal mine.
Some of his more revolutionary ideas include removing regulations that protect clean water, and no longer acknowledging climate change as a reality that deserves policy considerations.
“Back to basics means returning EPA to its core mission: protecting the environment by engaging with state, local, and tribal partners to create sensible regulations that enhance economic growth.” Scott Pruitt said, defining his vision for the EPA in solid terms.
Whether Mr. Pruitt understands that this was never the core mission of the EPA or not isn’t known, but it is very clear that this new direction is wildly abusive towards the environment’s human sustaining abilities.
In the case of the recent spill of hexavalent chromium in Portage, we can be thankful for the quick actions of local authorities that understand that there is a lot more to a healthy life than ephemeral profits.
On a larger scale, the new direction that the federal government in the United States has taken is alarming. The damage that will be done over the next years will be substantial. It is tragic to see the EPA to go in the Orwellian direction that so many other federal agencies have taken.