The President of the United States, Donald Trump has proposed extensive cuts to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. In Chicago, these cuts could impact wastewater processing and drinking water.
President Trump’s plan would reduce the EPA’s current spending of approximately 8.2 billion USD to $5.7 billion, a cut of around 30%. This would see the EPA receive its lowest funding in over 40 years. Moreover, there would be significant jobs losses where the EPA would be forced to cut its labour force by 20%, which equates to about 3200 people out of a job by this time next year.
Among other things, the EPA is responsible for setting policies and enforcing proper waste disposal for industries. Funding cuts would most certainly lead to many companies taking advantage of the lack of enforcement leading to a rise in pollutants and ultimately a decrease in water quality
The EPA has brought water quality a long way since the middle of the 20th century, where there were reports that Lake Erie was so polluted that on occasion it would spontaneously combust. A return to anywhere near such levels would be disastrous to the 40 million people in the United States and Canada that depend on the great lakes for their clean water.
The US Environmental Protection agency is a wonderful example of what government agencies can accomplish when given the right tools and time. A few short decades ago the United States was heavily polluted, Especially areas around the Great Lakes due to the heavy industry in that area.
Today however, with their multitude of nature reserves and recreational amenities, the Great Lakes have come a long way. One hopes that the proposed cuts are firmly opposed and that EPA continues to serve an example of what can be achieved.