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Report: Illinois has seen most environmental job cuts in US since 2008

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(WEEK) -- When it comes to environmental protection staffing in Illinois, the Land of Lincoln ranks No. 1 for the most job cuts since 2008, a nonprofit environmental organization alleges.

The Environmental Integrity Project issued a report Thursday detailing funding and staffing cuts to states environmental protection agencies.

Illinois has seen the worst staffing cuts in the United States, with 389 job reductions, a 38 percent loss, from 2008-2018, of the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, according to the nonprofit's report.

In 2008, Illinois had 1,028 IEPA positions. By 2018, that number had been reduced to 639.

"As Illinois’ overall state budget grew by nearly half between fiscal 2008 and 2018 and environmental threats persisted, governors and state lawmakers eliminated 389 full-time equivalent positions at the Illinois EPA, with its workforce declining from 1,028 to 639, the largest percentage drop in the U.S., according to state figures," according to a press release by the EIP.

Graphic Provided by the Environmental Integrity Project

The report also alleges Illinois has seen its pollution control programs at the IEPA cut by 25 percent, from $257 million to $192 million in the 10-year period reviewed.

Trailing Illinois in staffing cuts were North Carolina with a 35-percent cut and Arizona with 32 percent loss.

"I know the people at Illinois EPA are trying to do their jobs and the obligations we’ve given them with limited resources, but it’s just too little and the work isn’t getting done,” said Jen Walling, Executive Director of the nonprofit Illinois Environmental Council. “This means that people are subject to more pollution, polluters are getting away with more violations, and also, for industry, it takes longer to obtain a permit in Illinois.”

Graphic Provided by the Environmental Integrity Project

Drew Veskauf

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