The Kansas City Compromise

By Jeffery Robichaud

Have you seen this show on the History Channel? Who knew the intersection of geography and history could be so cool…well I kind of did.

When I was in 8th Grade I was an entrant in a history competition at Green River Community College in Washington State. I saw an awesome display on the slogan, “Fifty-four Forty or Fight!” which put my project to shame (to this day I’m still embarrassed and won’t tell you what it is). I was unaware of how this rallying cry as part of James Polk’s presidential campaign almost led to war and helped set our northern border with Canada. I believe the three kids who were responsible won top honors, while all I won was a day away from school.

Dots and lines on maps are often actually a reflection of events that took place in our history, which got me thinking. Why are EPA Regions located where they are? Why isn’t Region 7 located in Omaha, NE instead of Kansas City. The answer as you might guess is part history but also part efficiency.

We were left out of the original concept in March of 1969, which only created 8 Regions. Kansas City and Seattle were added a couple of months later to make it an even 10. In fact, Richard Nixon’s decision in 1969 just made plain sense for us here in the plains. Region 7, is comprised of about 8 percent of the land mass of the U.S. and consists of 8 percent of our 50 States (Iowa, Kansas , Missouri, and Nebraska). When you look at a map of our 4 States, Kansas City is the largest City near the centroid of the area covered by Region 7, and is the only major city in between the four state capitols in Lincoln, Jefferson City, Des Moines, and Topeka so I guess you could call it the Kansas City Compromise. I’ll leave it to Region 2, to explain why they are responsible for Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.

About the Author: Jeffery Robichaud is a second generation EPA scientist who has worked for the Agency since 1998. He currently serves as Deputy Director of EPA Region 7’s Environmental Services Division.