EPA responds to controversial Lenexa move

KANSAS CITY, Kan. - The EPA opened its controversial new area headquarters in Lenexa, Kan., on Tuesday.

The EPA's Region 7 Headquarters had been located in Kansas City, Kan., for about 20 years. The Unified Government of Wyandotte sued when the EPA announced earlier this year it would be leaving the area.

The lawsuit alleged the General Services Administration violated two Presidential Executive Orders to move the EPA and its nearly 700 employees from custom built offices in an urban area to suburban Lenexa.

The lawsuit asked the federal court to cancel the contract and restart the selection process.

The Unified Government said KCK would suffer irreparable harm to its economy, downtown core and local tax revenues if the move took place.

Mayor Joe Reardon made his frustration clear in June.

"I am discouraged the same agency that chose to waste $800,000 tax dollars on a GSA party in Las Vegas is now wasting even more tax dollars by abandoning downtown KCK and moving the EPA Headquarters to the suburbs," he told the Kansas City Kansan .

The UG ultimately withdrew its court challenge to the EPA after a federal court said it did not have jurisdiction in the case.

On Tuesday morning, White House EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson toured the restructured green facility on Renner Road. She said the EPA could save close to $25 million on its new, cheaper 20-year lease agreement in Lenexa.

Jackson said the new building also follows the EPA's mission as it's a green space.

"All over the country, local governments are doing the exact same thing, private businesses are moving to really green spaces ... and they need to know that their government is leading by example," she said. "So that's an extra added benefit of the move. Again, downtown Kansas City was great, but at the end of the day we have to be good keepers of the public purse."

About 700 people have relocated to the EPA's new Region 7 Headquarters in Lenexa, and 90 people remain at the old facility in KCK's Strawberry Hill.

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