Regional EPA administrator Karl Brooks eager to tackle Kansas’ challenges

Karl Brooks, regional administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency, acknowledged that his job is getting harder.

Eighteen months into his career at the regulatory agency, Brooks said he is eager to take on the global environmental challenges the country faces.

“It’s scary, but, frankly, it’s really exciting,” he said. “It’s a ride into a future that none of us were really anticipating and all of us are responsible for creating.”

Brooks, an environmental studies associate professor at Kansas University prior to joining the EPA, is responsible for EPA region 7, which includes the Missouri-Mississippi basin, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and nine tribal nations.

He spoke at the Lawrence Public Library, 707 Vt., on Saturday and answered questions from the audience. State Sen. Marci Francisco, D-Lawrence, and Douglas County Commissioner Nancy Thellman both attended.

Brooks said he wants to continue reducing water and air pollution and build a healthy relationship with the state’s large agriculture industry. He said one of the biggest challenges the agency faces is decreased funding.

“Clearly, state agencies have to do a lot of work with less funds than they had a year ago,” Brooks said.