Chicago EPA Inspections Down Over 60 Percent During Trump Administration

Chicago EPA Inspections

Since the Trump Administration took office in January of 2017, the Chicago EPA inspections have declined more than 60 percent. Meanwhile, the entire U.S. is down about 30 percent on the number of inspections, meaning the EPA’s Chicago Region 5 — which covers Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota and Ohio — is doing far less inspections than the rest of the country now compared to three years ago.

“The same pattern is true of enforcement actions aimed at getting polluters to change their actions through fines, cleanups and mitigation agreements,” according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

Chicago Region 5 was once one of the more heavily regulated EPA regions in the country. From 2009 to 2015, the agency never conducted less than 3,200 inspections per year. In 2016, the last year of the Obama administration, the region conducted 2,157 inspections.

However, that’s still far more than the 840 that have been conducted in 2019 as of Nov. 15. Eleven and a half months into the year, and the agency hasn’t even conducted half of the pollution inspections that was once the norm.

Cathy Stepp, appointed to head the Chicago Region 5 office under the Trump Administration, said in a public statement in September that 50 environmental regulations have been rescinded. While this has allegedly saved the taxpayers $3.7 billion over that short time period, communities are worried about their health and safety.

From small towns across Illinois all the way to Chicago, many are worried about the lack of inspections and federal mandates on pollution-creating companies.

“In January, Sen. Dick Durbin and Sen. Tammy Duckworth called for a federal probe of allegations of political interference in EPA decisions they say allowed cancer-causing chemicals into the air at three medical-equipment sterilization plants in Chicago’s suburbs,” reported the Sun-Times. “In a letter to the EPA’s inspector general, they asked for an investigation into whether Stepp halted air inspections related to the cancer-causing chemical ethylene oxide.

In their letter — prompted by complaints from an unnamed Chicago EPA staffer — the senators cited ‘politically motivated interference overriding recommendations of career staff.’”

While it remains unclear for now, it’ll be interesting to see how Chicago EPA inspections regulations change in the next year or so, regardless of who ends up in the White House after next year’s election.

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