The Environmental Protection Agency has long been viewed by conservatives as having become bloated and politicized, and were involved in far more things via overbearing regulations than simply ensuring Americans had clean water to drink and clean air to breathe.
The New York Times recently lamented that more than 700 disappointed and discouraged employees had left the agency since President Donald Trump took office.
Of those who have quit, retired or accepted buyout packages to step aside, the Times reports more than 200 of them are described as scientists, another 96 were “protection specialists,” nine were department directors, and dozens more were attorneys and various program managers.
The best part of all — in our view, though obviously not in the view of The Times — is that the vast majority of these departed employees are not being replaced, and many of their positions are simply being eliminated.
Trump’s criticisms of the agency, as well as the change in focus by new EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, have led to lower morale and an increase in grievances among the largely liberal workforce.
With Trump and Pruitt in charge, that trend will likely accelerate downward even faster.
But the hemorrhaging of employees from the EPA doesn’t mean work at the agency has ground to a halt. An agency spokesman said they are now doing “more with less” to accomplish their goals of protecting the environment.
“With only 10 months on the job, Administrator Pruitt is unequivocally doing more with less to hold polluters accountable and to protect our environment,” said EPA spokesman Jahan Wilcox.
As to the notion put forward by critics that Trump and Pruitt are purposefully attempting to push out experienced experts, researchers and knowledgeable scientists — “a departure in the mission” of protecting public health, so to speak — Wilcox also pushed back on that.
“People from across EPA were eligible to retire early with full benefits,” Wilcox said in an email. “We currently have over 1,600 scientists at EPA and less than 200 chose to retire with full benefits.”
In reality, the loss of employees at the EPA is simply part of the administration’s proposed plan to cut the agency’s budget by upwards of 31 percent, according to Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney.
“You can’t drain the swamp and leave all the people in it,” Mulvaney said. “So, I guess the first place that comes to mind will be the Environmental Protection Agency.”
Meanwhile WAGM-TV in Presque Isle, Maine, reported that state Attorney General Janet Mills had joined with those from 13 other states to demand in a letter to Congress that they cease the “deep and damaging” funding cuts for the embattled agency, decrying that further cuts would be detrimental to the state’s public health, environment, tourism industry and economy.
It is worth pointing out that the proposed budget cuts for the EPA by the House and Senate for Fiscal Year 2018 are far smaller than those proposed by the Trump administration — $650 million and $150 million, respectively, as opposed to $2.4 billion — but the states are still crying nonetheless.
Furthermore, though not explicitly spelled out in the letter from the coalition of state attorney generals, the threat of a potential lawsuit to prevent further budget cuts is implied by the fact that it was the AG’s sending the letter, and not a coalition of state EPA directors.
However, while liberals lament the downsizing of the EPA, conservatives can let out a cheer inasmuch as it has become a fairly solid general rule that anything viewed by liberals as bad for the EPA is in the end a good thing for America and freedom as a whole.
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