About EPA

Karl Brooks, Regional Administrator for EPA’s Region 7 Office in Kansas City

Karl Brooks
Karl Brooks

Appointed by President Barack Obama as EPA Region 7 Administrator in February 2010, Karl Brooks supervises Agency operations in Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, and nine tribal nations. He reports directly to the EPA Administrator.

He and his wife Mary are the parents of three adult children: a law student in St. Louis, a writer in Dallas, and a forester in Montana. Mary Brooks, a graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism, is a professional indexer and editor of scholarly books for American publishers.

Born in Boise, Idaho, Brooks has lived in Lawrence, Kansas, since 1996. Since earning his Ph.D. from the University of Kansas and joining the faculty in 2000, he has taught American environmental, political, and legal history as well as environmental law and policy to thousands of KU undergraduate, graduate, and law students. Author of Before Earth Day: The Origins of American Environmental Law, 1945-1970 (2009) and Public Power, Private Dams: The Hells Canyon High Dam Controversy (2006) and editor of The Environmental Legacy of Harry S. Truman (2009), Brooks has written many articles for newspapers, magazines, and scholarly journals.

Brooks practiced trial and appellate law in his hometown for a decade, representing individual, small-business, and corporate clients in various American courts and agencies. A member of the Idaho State Bar since 1983, he is also admitted to practice before the Supreme Court and several federal appellate courts. During 2001-2002, as a Supreme Court Fellow in Washington, D.C., he drafted a history of the U.S. Sentencing Commission.

Brooks was elected in 1986 to the first of three terms in the Idaho Senate, becoming co-chair of the Judiciary and Rules Committee and ranking Democrat on the Local Government and Taxation Committee. Retiring from elective politics after the birth of his second child, from 1993 to 1996 he served the Idaho Conservation League, his home state's largest citizens' environmental organization, as executive director and legislative liaison.

Like many Westerners, Brooks traces deep family roots throughout Region 7. Children Jenni, Judson, and Dylan all graduated from Kansas high schools. Wife Mary, a fourth-generation St. Louisan, graduated from the University of Missouri. Brooks' mother was born in northeast Missouri's Sullivan County, near her family's 1850s homestead. Brooks' father's family emigrated from Iowa in the 1880s to Keyapaha County, in north-central Nebraska, where his grandmother was born; and the other branch followed the railroad west from Omaha to Idaho, where his great-grandfather opened the railroad's Blackfoot station shortly after statehood in 1890.