CHICAGO (AP) — The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency has experienced major staffing cutbacks and dwindling funding in recent years, according to two new reports.
The agency’s workforce was reduced by 38% percent between 2008 and 2018, more than any of the 47 states studied in an Environmental Integrity Project report released Thursday.
Eric Schaeffer, a former top federal EPA enforcement official, compiled the report. He said with the cutbacks, the state environmental agency has failed to identify hazards to public health and keep those who pollute accountable, according to The Chicago Tribune.
Illinois has also lagged behind other states in how much it allocates to its state environmental agency, according to a November report by the University of Chicago Law School and former federal EPA officials. Between 2013 and 2015, most states increased their agency budgets by 7% on average. In the same time period, Illinois’ increased by only 2.5%.
Schaeffer and former IEPA officials have urged state leaders to change the way the state agency is funded.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker has shown signs he wants to make changes. His administration has posted 161 job openings at the state environmental agency this year, compared with 276 posted between 2013 and 2017, according to the Tribune.