The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says it has no current plan to close its Region 5 branch office in Chicago, and calls a Chicago Sun-Times newspaper story reporting the possibility an "unsubstantiated rumor."
But despite saying the story "has no merit," there's clearly a reason for the rumor.
An EPA official says the agency may merge two of its branch offices, but hasn't decided if it will, let alone which ones.
Region 5 in Chicago oversees Great Lakes states. It's played a big role in the Flint water crisis.
The EPA official says the agency has no plan to scale back its oversight in the region – and even if the Chicago branch were to be merged, perhaps with the Kansas branch, a satellite office in the Windy City could be maintained, and other EPA workers could be embedded at various state agencies.
The official says that kind of approach could also deliver a better value for taxpayers.