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EPA union warns of impending public health, environmental emergency without federal budget deal

A government shutdown this week would disable the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and create a public health and environmental emergency, the union representing some 900 EPA employees across the midwest warned on Monday.

The deadline is December 8th for Congress to reach a funding deal or pass a continuing resolution to allow the current federal appropriations to remain in place for an additional amount of time.

If Congress fails to pass an authorization funding the government, federal agencies like the EPA will be forced to shut down almost entirely, furloughing thousands of employees around the country.

“A government shutdown would create an unprecedented emergency for human health and our environment,” said Mike Mikulka, President of the American Federation of Government Employees Local 704, which represents EPA Region 5 employees. “We urge leaders on both sides of the aisle to come together and reach a comprehensive budget agreement which includes full funding for the EPA. Don’t put lives at risk by forcing a government shutdown.”

A government shutdown would mean the EPA employees in Region 5, which includes Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin, would be forced stop such work as cleaning up the East Chicago USS Lead and DuPont Superfund sites or keeping tabs on the Lake Erie algae bloom.

It could also put the brakes on the EPA’s work inspecting pollution sources, suing big polluters breaking anti-pollution rules, and monitoring air and drinking water–including preventing situations like Flint, Michigan.

“A government shutdown would mean that there would be no environmental cop on the beat policing big polluters and keeping our air, water and soil safe from toxic chemicals,” said Mikulka. “That’s not a risk Congressional leaders should be willing to take.”

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