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EPA Reaching Lowest Staffing Levels Since Reagan

by Countable | 9.7.17

What’s the story?

Since August 31, nearly 400 employees have left the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The vast majority took buyout offers targeted at reducing staffing levels, while about a dozen retired. Another 3 dozen are retiring at the end of September. The administration does not plan to replace these positions, which means the agency will soon have staffing levels that haven’t existed since the last year of the Reagan administration.

Why does it matter?

The Wall Street Journal reports that Scott Pruitt, the head of the EPA, stated the departures are consistent with the administration’s goals to shrink the agency:

"We’re giving long-serving, hardworking employees the opportunity to retire early. We’re proud to report that we’re reducing the size of government, protecting taxpayer dollars and staying true to our core mission of protecting the environment and American jobs."

Some critics of the move worry that the shrinking of the EPA workforce will make it near impossible for the agency to meet its regulatory obligations. Other critics question whether the buyouts are an effective use of taxpayer money.

According to a letter sent to employees by the National Treasury Employees Union Chapter 280, which was obtained by E&E News, 1,227 buyout offers were made this summer, to be accepted by September 2. Of those, EPA’s Office of Research and Development received the highest number of buyouts at 183. The Office of Administration and Resource Management was offered 98 buyouts; the Office of Land and Emergency Management received 94.

Regional offices also received significant numbers of buyout offers. The Region 6 office in Dallas, primarily responsible for monitoring the impacts following Hurricane Harvey, received 147 buyout offers.

How many of the buyout offers accepted in each office is unclear. Agency officials told the Journal that "agency leaders designed the buyout plan so it wouldn’t leave them with too few people to respond to any unforeseen natural disasters."

What do you think?

Do you think this is the right time to "shrink" the EPA? Should the administration be pursuing cuts at the EPA in light of the disastrous effects of Hurricane Harvey and the likely effects from Hurricane Irma? Do you think the work of the EPA to regulate toxic releases into the environment, enforce environmental controls, research energy strategies, and address climate changes is important or not? Do you think they will be able to do that successfully with reduced staffing numbers?

Tell us what you think in the comments, then use the Take Action button to tell your reps!

— Asha Sanaker

(Photo Credit: Pixabay / Creative Commons )

Related Reading:

EPA under Trump shrinks to near Reagan-era staffing levels — Washington Post

EPA plans to buy out more than 1,200 employees this summer — Washington Post

EPA Wants 1,200 Employees to Accept Buy Outs, Early Outs — Government Executive

Countable

Written by Countable

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(67)
  • Eric
    09/07/2017
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    Breathing, growing food, and drinking water seem to be of no interest to the current administration.

    Like (24)
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  • Robert
    09/07/2017
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    The Trump administration has no inclination to protect the environment. Elimination of the Environmental Protection Agency is exactly what their corporate sponsors are looking for.

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  • Jerise
    09/07/2017
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    Hurricanes aside, I have a feeling that these buyouts are not paring away at overstaffed offices with time on their hands, but represent the blatant will of this administration not to follow through on its environmental commitments and legal requirements.

    Like (10)
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  • Laura
    09/07/2017
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    Donald Trump doesn't care about this planet or other people who have to live here too.

    Like (9)
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  • Muddyrutsfarm
    09/07/2017
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    As long as trump and his top 10% don't live in Flint or anywhere else with poisoned water, air or soil, they see no reason to protect our environment for anyone else!

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  • Linda
    09/07/2017
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    This administration's blatant destruction of the EPA will be noted as the worst assault on our environment. Rescind regulations for the benefit of polluting businesses will return us to past generations of smog and dirty water. The cost to repair this assault will be astronomical. Unregulated industry increase profits & pollution. The harm to people's health and quality of life is catastrophic. Congress must step up to stop this destruction. Clean power & water. Ban fracking, drilling, mining, cutting timber, leasing grazing land, killing wildlife, dumping into water, of our public lands, rivers, lakes, streams, coastal waters, & national parks. Protect virgin land by banning any development.

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  • Dawn
    09/08/2017
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    Trump 🤡 is a disgusting man who only takes money making seriously! How much harm will he be allowed to wreck upon our citizens and land before he's gone?

    Like (6)
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  • Michael777
    09/09/2017
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    Every Trump voter better not cry for the government to help them when their drinking water becomes poisoned, their food gets polluted, or when their air grows smoggier. They get exactly what they voted, the whole pack of 'em! Enjoy karma, snitches!

    Like (4)
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  • Dean
    09/08/2017
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    Increase funding for more employees at EPA.

    Like (4)
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  • Pete
    09/07/2017
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    The EPA has become the condom that Trump uses while raping the environment. He certainly doesn't want it to interfere with his enjoyment.

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  • Deirdre
    09/07/2017
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    This is just ridiculous. The EPA is exactly what we need to keep the big corporations in check. We need clean air, water, soil... to live here. This really makes me upset. Pollution is in. A Clean environment is out. So ridiculous

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  • Franklin
    09/08/2017
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    I agree that the government shouldn't be frivilously spending taxpayer money on ineffective programs. However, the EPA is not an ineffective department. As we can see from the wildfires in the west, hurricanes and climate change the EPA and their staff are highly needed. This is no joke and it's not all about saving money. It's about the survival of the generations to come.

    Like (3)
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  • Gail
    09/08/2017
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    Making Americans rich seems to be Trump's promise. How does poisoning us make us rich?

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  • Jesse
    09/07/2017
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    The EPA in important environmental organization that need more money but this current administration doesn't care about people lives

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  • Kaitlyn
    09/07/2017
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    This is honestly terrifying. The environment should be our #1 priority. Nothing else would matter if the world becomes a wasteland.

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  • Timnyc
    09/08/2017
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    This is very concerning.We have decades of experience and education that if private Corporations aren't policed constantly and held accountable for their actions They will continually destroy the natural resources around them.They are only interested in profit margins not human beings.

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  • PLD
    09/08/2017
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    The damage being done to the the present and future quality of life living on this earth will take years to repair (and some aspects are irreparable.)

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  • Carol
    09/08/2017
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    Very bad news in our day and age. Let's get together and make this a better world.

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  • Kodiwodi
    09/07/2017
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    As far as I am concerned, this is criminal and the trump administration has blood on their hands.

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  • Alex
    09/08/2017
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    The EPA and most of the federal agencies exist to protect the public and the environment, that is the oath every civilian federal employee swear. Anything to diminish the EPA, diminish the protection to the public. The protection of the public should not only be the mission of the EPA but of every private company regulated by it as well.

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