Regional EPA Administrator Steps Down

The regional director of the Environmental Protection Agency overseeing Illinois and five other states has resigned. Her departure is a consequence of the water contamination crisis in Flint, Michigan.

Hedman discussing careers in sustainability and environmental policy at the University of Michigan’s Ford School of Public Policy in 2012. Photo: Katie Trevathan, Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, University of Michigan

Hedman discussing careers in sustainability and environmental policy at the University of Michigan’s Ford School of Public Policy in 2012.
Photo: Katie Trevathan, Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, University of Michigan

Susan Hedman, who ran the EPA Region 5 from her Chicago office since April 2010, resigned on Thursday, according to a statement issued by the EPA Administrator, Gina McCarthy. Hedman’s departure will allow the agency to focus “solely on the restoration of Flint’s drinking water,” according to the statement.

In a cost-cutting maneuver, the impoverished city began drawing water from the Flint River rather than purchasing it from Detroit. Residents immediately complained that the water looked, smelled and tasted oddly. High levels of lead have since been detected in the water and in children’s blood samples. Lead is a potent neurotoxin and unsafe at any level. Ingestion of lead has many side effects, especially in children where it can lead to learning disabilities, lower IQ and behavioral problems.

Blame has been levied against local, state and federal officials for how the incident has been handled. For the EPA’s part, Region 5 officials were aware of the contamination at least as early as last April, but didn’t establish a task force until October.

Henry Henderson, the Midwest Director of the Natural Resources Defense Council, spoke out against the EPA and its handling of the Flint crisis last week. “If this is how the EPA views their powers, the Agency might as well stay out of the Flint crisis because they have clearly been part of the problem,” Henderson said. “It is beyond understanding that the EPA was paralyzed for 9 months while waiting for a legal opinion on their own powers in the midst of a crisis where an entire city was being poisoned.”

Hedman was appointed by President Obama to the head of EPA Region 5 on Earth Day 2010, where she oversaw the agency’s operations in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin. Prior to her appointment, Hedman was environmental counsel and senior assistant attorney general in the Illinois Attorney General’s office.

Tags: , ,

See All Tags

Suggest an article

Send us your articles! Please email any articles or topics that you think we should feature to Editor@Sustainable-Chicago.com.

Speak Your Mind

Tell us what you're thinking...
and oh, if you want a pic to show with your comment, go get a gravatar!