UCS visits the EPA’s Midwest Office to investigate how Trump administration policies are hampering the agency and harming Americans’ health.

From the regional office of the Environmental Protection Agency in the tall, modern Ralph Metcalfe Building in downtown Chicago, teams of scientists, investigators, and lawyers enforce the nation’s environmental laws across the EPA’s Region 5: a vast swath of the midwestern United States that includes Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, and Ohio as well as the lands of some 35 Native American tribes and the enormous Great Lakes.

On a recent visit, the 12th-floor office walls sported photos of EPA officials actively cleaning up spills, analyzing lab samples, and engaging with community residents. But interviews with current and former staffers struck a strikingly different note as they described the current work environment with a discordant mixture of despair and defiance, candor and fear.