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Environmental Groups Say EPA Budget Cuts Could Harm Ohio

Lake Erie shore line in Sandusky, Ohio.
Andy Chow
Ohio Public Radio
Environmental advocates worry the cuts could affect Lake Erie, among other natural Ohio features.

Environmental advocates are warning Ohioans that the state’s land, air and water are all at risk if the proposed cuts to the U.S. EPA are implemented.

A plan working its way through Congress could cut the U.S. EPA by 8 percent. Environmental groups, including the Sierra Club and Moms Clean Air Force, say this poses a threat to Ohio’s most valuable resources, such as Lake Erie.

Michael Mikulka, an engineer for the EPA, says the reduced budget would cut the staff members who do field work to investigate potential problems. That means “less cops on the beat.”

“That gives those that would take the opportunity to not meet the standards a better chance at not getting caught,” he said.

But Mikulka’s boss, U.S. EPA Director Scott Pruitt argues that his agency can trim the budget and still meet the core mission of improving land, air and water quality.

Tracy Sabetta with Moms Clean Air Force notes that the proposed budget would make a 44 percent cut in state grant funding, adding that Ohio has recently used $13 million in that kind of funding to improve the Lake Erie watershed.