CHICAGO (March 16, 2017)–Following is a statement from Michael Mikulka, President of the American Federation of Government Employees Local 704, the union representing employees of the Environmental Protection Agency Region 5, in response to the drastic proposed Trump administration cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency budget:
“These cuts amount to the White House sending a wrecking ball into the heart of the Environmental Protection Agency–and they’ll put American lives at risk.
“The cuts would cripple EPA employees’ ability to do our duty to protect the nation’s natural and economic health. Communities across the country could now be subject to long-banned practices such as the dumping of industrial and mining waste and untreated sewage into lakes, streams and rivers. Wildlife and fish populations will likely be reduced, and human health will be directly damaged as a result of dropping longstanding environmental safeguards. And make no mistake: if these cuts are implemented, the safety of the nation’s drinking water and the air we breathe will be at stake.
“The proposed federal budget would shift the responsibility for water, land and air quality to the states and localities; but that is nothing more than a pipedream. The White House must face the hard truth that states are already struggling and lack the capacity to manage these programs. Here in Illinois, we’ve been without a state budget whatsoever for two years.
“EPA Region 5 manages the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, for which funding has been zeroed out in this proposal. The Great Lakes are the biggest fresh-water supply on the planet and source the drinking water for most of the Midwest. For recreation, health and safety, the protection of the Great Lakes ought to be top priority. Instead, they are being slashed. Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin will be in grave danger as a result.
“We urge lawmakers in Washington to roundly reject these EPA cuts, and protect human health and the environment for all Americans.”