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Biden appoints Debra Shore to lead EPA Midwestern office

Competition for the position was intense, says officials

President Joe Biden on Tuesday appointed Debra Shore, a wastewater treatment official in Chicago, to direct the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Midwestern office.

Shore will oversee EPA’s Region 5, which includes Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin, along with 35 indigenous tribes. The office oversees efforts to clean up the Great Lakes and deals with matters including industrial and agricultural pollution and tainted drinking water.

EPA Administrator Michael Regan said Shore’s “knowledge and experience on water infrastructure issues, the impacts of climate change and the protection of the Great Lakes” qualified her for the post.

Shore is an elected member of the Board of Commissioners of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago, an agency that handles wastewater treatment and stormwater management for more than 5 million residents.

EPA described her as a “strong advocate” for improved water quality and renewable energy.

Shore said she was eager to help carry out the Biden administration’s “bold plans to address climate change, to restore the agency’s foundational commitment to environmental justice and to ensure that decisions are made based on sound science and the law.”

Competition for the high-profile appointment was intense. Some members of Congress backed Micah Ragland, a former EPA official during the Obama administration. He is Black and led the agency’s outreach campaign in his hometown of Flint, Michigan, as the city grappled with lead contamination in its drinking water.

American Federation of Government Employees Local 704, a union representing nearly 1,000 EPA employees in the region, also endorsed Ragland.

Shore drew support from LGBTQ Victory Institute, which described her as “the latest high-level LGBTQ appointee in the Biden administration.”

Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, an Illinois Democrat, said Shore’s “commitment to correcting decades-long environmental injustices” made her “uniquely suited to serve the Midwest and take on this leadership role in protecting our natural resources for years to come.”

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