Report of potential closure of EPA office sparks bipartisan resp - WNEM TV 5

Report of potential closure of EPA office sparks bipartisan response

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(Source: WNEM) (Source: WNEM)

The Great Lakes are a treasure and a natural resource in Michigan.

With the potential closing of a regional Environmental Protection Agency office, the need to protect the lakes is growing.

A media report said the EPA office in Chicago could close, which prompted a swift bipartisan response by some of Michigan's members of Congress. They said closing the office that oversees the Great Lakes could be devastating.

The news came as the Freeland Walleye festival kicked off.

"It's very important. A lot of the economy, the money that comes in here is incredible," said Randy Cain, Freeland resident.

He said if the festival ever went belly up it would be devastating.

However, the threat of invasive species is a real concern. That's why Cain hopes everything possible is being done to protect Michigan's waterways and the Great Lakes.

"It's really important because I want my grandkids to fish when they come up. My kids will fish with me," Cain said.

Lawmakers said they're concerned cuts at the federal level could put the state's most valuable resource in jeopardy. That's why Congressman Dan Kildee, a Democrat, is working alongside Republican Congressman Fred Upton to draft a letter urging the Trump administration to keep the EPA office in Chicago open. It is a bipartisan letter several Michigan congressional leaders have signed.

In it they urge the EPA director to invest in the office because it is in the best national interest to protect the Great Lakes and having a regional office to protect them from harm is essential.

The letter was prompted by a published report that cuts by the administration could mean the EPA regional office in Chicago could merge with the office in Kansas City. Chicago's EPA acting regional administrator has denied the report.

Cain said he believes the EPA should be looked at, but doesn't want it at the expense of the Great Lakes.

"Whatever the right thing is. If it's fat, I want it cut. I mean, if we don't need then we don't need. But obviously it's been something that's been important to the Great Lakes. We got to make sure the Great Lakes are here for our kids and our grandkids when they grow up," Cain said.

In the letter it also mentioned the Chicago EPA office's importance in helping Flint's water crisis and the continued support the office gives to the city as it continues to recover from the lead crisis.

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