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EPA denies plan (at least right now) to merge Region 5 with Kansas office

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Steve Carmody
/
Michigan Radio
Workers replace a lead service line in Flint

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says it has no current plan to close its Region 5 branch office in Chicago, and calls a Chicago Sun-Times newspaper story reporting the possibility an "unsubstantiated rumor." 

But despite saying the story "has no merit," there's clearly a reason for the rumor.

An EPA official says the agency may merge two of its branch offices, but hasn't decided if it will, let alone which ones. 

Region 5 in Chicago oversees Great Lakes states. It's played a big role in the Flint water crisis. 

The EPA official says the agency has no plan to scale back its oversight in the region – and even if the Chicago branch were to be merged, perhaps with the Kansas branch, a satellite office in the Windy City could be maintained, and other EPA workers could be embedded at various state agencies.

The official says that kind of approach could also deliver a better value for taxpayers.

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Radio. She began her career at Michigan Radio as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.
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