Brief

Is the EPA shutting down its Chicago office?

Dive Brief:

  • Budget cuts at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency could mean closure of the Chicago regional office, according to the Chicago Sun Times. The office would be consolidated with operations in Kansas, the paper reported.
  • A second regional closure is reportedly planned, but so far the identity of that office remains under wraps. Last month the Trump administration released a proposed budget called for reducing EPA funds by more than 30%, alongside a 6% cut at the Department of Energy.
  • However, EPA officials are now pushing back on the rumor, telling reporters "at this time, our discussions have not veered into the subject of an office closure."

Dive Insight:

Last month's revelation that the White House wants to slash the EPA budget by almost a third sent a shock through the industry, and now details are leaking out about how those cuts might be accomplished. The Chicago Sun Times says EPA's Region 5 office is on the chopping block; it serves Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Wisconsin and 35 Native American tribes.

According to energy reporter Mark Hand at Think Progress, the closure would impact the agency's ability to monitor coal plants in the region and water pollution potentially impacting the Great Lakes. About 1,000 jobs are at risk, the site reported.

Trump's proposed budget has targeted a number of Obama-era energy and environmental initiatives, broad EPA cuts, and would eliminate the DOE's Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), alongside other reductions to efficiency and renewable energy programs.

However, it's not clear if rumors of office closures are true. According to Politico, the reporting may be prematureor incorrect.

“At this time, our discussions have not veered into the subject of an office closure. Anyone stating anything to the contrary is spreading false information,” according to Robert Kaplan, acting regional administrator. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt is expected to travel in the region this week, Kaplan added.

A bipartisan group of legislators has asked Trump asking him to preserve funding for Great Lakes cleanup under the EPA, and GOP lawmakers told E&E News last month they would be carefully assessing the proposed cuts.

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Top image credit: EPA