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NY Times: Hundreds of EPA Employees Departing Agency

NY Times: Hundreds of EPA Employees Departing Agency
(AP)

By    |   Friday, 22 December 2017 10:28 AM

The Environmental Protection Agency has seen hundreds of employees quit, retire, or take buyouts since President Donald Trump took office, according to The New York Times.

More than 700 have left; 200 of those are scientists, an additional 96 are environmental protection specialists, nine are department directors, and dozens of attorneys and program managers. Most of those who left are not being replaced, the newspaper reported. 

Poor morale and unease at the agency has been a result of Trump and top Republicans criticizing it, calling it bloated and overreaching, according to the report.

The Obama administration began the downward trend at the agency due to Republican-led budget limitations, with the cuts accelerating during Trump's administration.

"The reason EPA 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," said John J. O'Grady, president of a union that represents EPA employees, American Federation of Government Employees Council 238.

The Times and ProPublica conducted an analysis of the employee moves through the end of September, using the Freedom of Information Act. That analysis shows that the administration is on its way to its goal of cutting 20 percent of the EPA work force.

Administrator Scott Pruitt is doing more with fewer employees, according to an EPA spokesman.

"With only 10 months on the job, Administrator Pruitt is unequivocally doing more with less to hold polluters accountable and to protect our environment," spokesman Jahan Wilcox said in The Times.

More than 27 percent of the employees that left the EPA this year were scientists. That number included 34 biologists and microbiologists, 19 chemists, 81 environmental engineers and environmental scientists, and more than a dozen toxicologists, life scientists, and geologists, according to the report.

The scientists are mostly not being replaced; of the 129 hires in the EPA this year, only seven are scientists and 15 more are student trainee scientists, the report said.

Political appointments are increasing; Pruitt's office was the only one to have more hires, 73, than exits, 53, this year, the report said.

"The mission of the agency is the protection of public health. Clearly there's been a departure in the mission," said Obama's EPA science adviser, Thomas Burke, in The Times.

Staff at the agency said that the Trump administration is removing expertise from the agency on purpose. "They want the people there to be more docile and nervous and less invested in the agency," said Ronnie B. Levin, a retired EPA researcher.

Maine Attorney General Janet Mills on Thursday joined a group of 13 states that called on the Senate and the House of Representatives to reject "deep and damaging" cuts to EPA funding, according to WAGM-TV. 

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The Environmental Protection Agency has seen hundreds of employees quit, retire, or take buyouts since President Donald Trump took office, according to The New York Times.
epa, employees, departing, trump, oval office
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2017-28-22
Friday, 22 December 2017 10:28 AM
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