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Science and Innovations

Report: Fewer Staff, Less Funding At State Environmental Agencies

Environmental Integrity Project

A new report says funding and staff at state agencies tasked with pollution control have diminished significantly in the last decade. KNAU’s Melissa Sevigny reports, Arizona’s agency is third highest in the nation for staffing cuts.

The reportwas published by the Environmental Integrity Project, a nonprofit group. It says Arizona is one of 40 states that saw workforce reductions in their pollution control programs since 2008. The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality lost 151 positions, nearly a third of its staff. The agency’s budget also dropped by 29 percent.

Nationally, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency lost 16 percent of its staff in that time.

An ADEQ spokesperson says the numbers in the report don’t reflect the agency’s achievements, which include efficiencies like online permitting and reporting. The agency says their compliance rates for drinking water systems have significantly improved in the last decade, and the wait time for beginning clean up of leaking underground storage tanks has diminished.

Melissa joined KNAU's team in 2015 to report on science, health, and the environment. Her work has appeared nationally on NPR and been featured on Science Friday. She grew up in Tucson, Arizona, where she fell in love with the ecology and geology of the Sonoran desert.
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