Proposed Cuts to the U.S. EPA Could Threaten Great Lakes Recovery

Apr 18, 2017

Toxic algae blooms in western Lake Erie are a persistent problem that the U.S. EPA and other organizations are tackling. It's unclear what changes are in store for the agency and how they might affect the Great Lakes.
Credit NOAA

President Donald Trump is proposing massive cuts to the U.S. EPA.

The Chicago-Sun Times recently reported that those cuts would include eliminating the Region 5 office that oversees Ohio and five other states.

An EPA spokesperson calls that report “politicized rumors.”

Advocates for the Great Lakes, including the Great Lakes Commission’s executive director Tim Eder hopes that’s the case…

“If it were true and if it were to close it would be really bad news for the Great Lakes region.  The Great Lakes region depends on a close relationship with the EPA and the states to do its job – to protect the Great Lakes and protect the environment and public health on which it depends.”

The Trump administration’s budget also calls for the elimination of the $300 million Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

Part of that funding goes toward fighting toxic algae blooms in Lake Erie.

Below is an email sent by U.S. EPA Region 5 Interim Administrator Robert Kaplan to his staff.

Dear colleagues,

I’ve seen a number of news stories circulating rumors about a potential closure of Region 5. These stories are not true, are pure speculation, and undermine our ability to communicate with the public the real information we have.

Some of you may be aware that EPA has discussed new ways to better integrate our efforts with the states, as well as eliminate excess office space, so that we can be more effective and save money. 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.  

We remain committed to supporting the communities in Region 5, and have continued to do work to help residents of Flint and those affected by the Superfund site in East Chicago. In fact, Administrator Pruitt himself will be coming this week to discuss how we can make sure our efforts in East Chicago are successful. This is about results, not rumors.

Thank you for your attention,

Bob