During President Donald Trump’s administration, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has lost over 700 employees, in various positions from scientists and specialists to department directors, contained in a report by The New York Times and ProPublica.
Since the beginning of the year, employees who have quit, retired, or exercised a buyout option includes 9 department directors, over 200 scientists, plus 96 environmental protection specialists who analyze and investigate levels of pollution. There have also been several lawyers and program managers who have left. Most of these positions are not being reappointed.
President Donald Trump and top Republicans have criticized the agency, and the wave of employees leaving the EPA is a reflection of low morale and discontent with Trump’s policies and those he has appointed to lead the EPA. Republican campaign operatives are suspected of using the Freedom of Information Act to view copies of requested emails from E.P.A. officials who were potential opposition to Donald Trump and his agenda.
Downsizing of the EPA began during Obama’s administration because of Republican-led budget cuts and the agency felt a strain. American Federation of Government Employees Council 238, president, John J. O’Grady, a union representative for the EPA said,
‘The reason E.P.A. went down to 15,000 employees under Obama is because of pressure from Republicans. This is the effort of the Republicans under the Obama administration on steroids.’
Ronnie B. Levin, was an employee for 37 years at the E.P.A. Ms. Levin researched policies concerning lead exposure contamination in paint, gasoline and drinking water. In November, she retired from the agency because of low morale and the lead enforcement office was slated for elimination as part of President Trump’s budget proposal. Ms. Levin said,
‘It was hard to get your enthusiasm up. This is exactly what they wanted, which is my biggest misgiving about leaving. They want the people there to be more docile and nervous and less invested in the agency.’
Lynda Deschambault, a physical scientist and chemist, left the E.P.A. after 26 years. Based in San Francisco, her Region 9 office had 21 employees leave and there have been no replacements. She said, “The office was a morgue.”
Director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, Mick Mulvaney, proposed to cut this years budget to the EPA by 31 percent. It is being justified by Mick Mulvaney, as “part of Mr. Trump’s plan to eliminate entrenched government workers.” Mulvaney said:
‘You can’t drain the swamp and leave all the people in it. So, I guess the first place that comes to mind will be the Environmental Protection Agency.’
Jan Nation, works in Philadelphia E.P.A.’s Region 3, saw 46 people leave either through retirement or buyout. In response to the administrative statement regarding federal workers, Ms. Nation stated,
‘We are not the swamp. The swamp are all the people who don’t have a specific function to make our government work. If you have a swamp to drain, I know people in the Army Corps of Engineers who can do it.’
Trump administration has brought in Republican Scott Pruitt to the EPA. He plans a different approach by cutting back major regulations and making it more industry-friendly. Agency administrator Pruitt was the only office that had more rehires than departures this year.
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