March 07, 2018

Duckworth Meets with EPA Region 5 Administrator


[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – Today, U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) met with recently-appointed Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 5 Administrator Cathy Stepp to discuss public health priorities and opportunities for collaboration. The Region 5 Office in Chicago employs 1,000 public servants who work tirelessly to protect our environment as well as the health and safety of Americans living in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin. EPA regional offices enforce federal pollution standards, inspect local facilities and serve as a resource for state environmental entities. A photo of Duckworth and Stepp's meeting is available here.

“I spoke with Ms. Stepp about the importance of maintaining the civil servants who work at Region 5 located in Chicago, fully funding the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and strong enforcement in the wake of the Flint Water Crisis,” Duckworth said. “I am committed to doing everything I can to support the essential work of the staff at the Region 5 office and hope that the EPA’s leadership—Administrator Stepp included—is able to prove they share that commitment.”

Last year, Duckworth introduced the Recognizing the Environmental Gains in Overcoming Negligence (REGION) Act that would prevent the closure of any EPA regional office. Citing lessons learned from the Flint water crisis, Duckworth led several colleagues in writing to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt in May of 2017 urging him to commit that none of the agency’s regional offices be closed or consolidated. During Pruitt’s confirmation hearing, Duckworth pressed the nominee on the importance of these regional offices as well as the importance of appointing a permanent leader to head the EPA Region 5. Duckworth also got Pruitt to agree about the need to empower the dedicated men and women who serve in EPA Region 5 in the aftermath of Flint, Michigan, to act proactively when a state fails to protect its citizens. Video of Duckworth’s questioning in Pruitt’s confirmation hearing is available here.

The EPA Region 5 Office is home to the Great Lakes Program Office that executes our international obligations with Canada under the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. In addition, it administers the nation’s Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI), which has funded over 2,000 projects that improve water quality, protect wildlife, and clean up toxic pollutants that threaten our water supply since 2010. To date, the program invested more than $2.2 billion in Great Lakes restoration projects. Coordinated in both the United States and Canada, GLRI sets the standard for interagency and international cooperation. A 2008 Brookings Institution report shows that every $1 invested in Great Lakes restoration results in a $2 return in the form of increased fishing, tourism and home values. The Great Lakes contain 95 percent of America’s fresh surface water and supply drinking water to more than 30 million people in North America.

As a member of the Senate Environment & Public Works Committee and the Ranking Member of its Subcommittee on Fisheries, Water and Wildlife, Duckworth is committed to the responsible stewardship of the nation’s environment and protecting our natural resources.