The region of the Environmental Protection Agency that includes Indiana has lost more than 100 employees since President Donald Trump’s election. A union that represents EPA Region 5 says that means there are fewer watchdogs in the Midwest.
The EPA says more than half of the employees that left the regional agency retired. Michael Mikulka is president of AFGE Local 704, the union that represents Region 5. He says a large portion of those that retired took a buyout. Mikulka says some employees feel the White House no longer supports the EPA’s mission.
“Demoralized because those regulations that they’ve spent, in some cases, years on are being pulled back,” he says.
The bulk of those that left were scientists and environmental protection specialists.
Mikulka says the agency is already doing fewer inspections and there’s less of an incentive to follow-up on violations. This puts more pressure on Region 5’s cash-strapped states.
“Bottomline if there’s no cop on the beat, then there’s not going to be an urgency to comply with the law,” says Mikulka.
Mikulka says EPA Region 5 plans to bring on about 20 more employees, but he fears just as many people will leave or retire by the time they’re hired.
Indiana Environmental reporting is supported by the Environmental Resilience Institute, an Indiana University Grand Challenge project developing Indiana-specific projections and informed responses to problems of environmental change.