From the NY Post: More than 700 workers have left the rapidly shrinking Environmental Protection Agency since President Trump took office — including more than 200 scientists, according to a report.
The exodus by staffers who have quit, retired or taken buyout packages includes 96 environmental protection specialists and nine department directors, according to the report by The New York Times and ProPublica.
A majority of the employees, who include attorneys and program managers, are not being replaced, according to the report.
The departures reflect poor morale at the EPA, which Trump and top congressional Republicans have criticized as bloated and guilty of regulatory overreach.
That discontent is likely to widen following revelations that GOP campaign officials were using the Freedom of Information Act to request copies of emails from agency personnel suspected of opposing Trump and his agenda, the report said.
The news outlets’ investigation showed that the administration is well on its way to achieving its goal of cutting 3,200 positions from the agency — about 20 percent of its work force — to levels last seen during the Reagan administration.
EPA spokesman Jahan Wilcox said the agency was running more efficiently. “With only 10 months on the job, Administrator Pruitt is unequivocally doing more with less to hold polluters accountable and to protect our environment,” he said.
It was reported in October that EPA head Scott Pruitt has been getting far more death threats than anyone else who has ever led the agency, whose budget was slated for a 30 percent cut.
The EPA has experienced a downward trend since the Obama administration after Republican-led budget constraints left it with about 15,000 workers at the end of his term.
The reductions have accelerated under Trump, who campaigned on a promise to drastically scale back the EPA, leaving only what he called “little tidbits” in place.
“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, head of the American Federation of Government Employees Council 238, which represents EPA workers.
Trump has called climate change a hoax and announced his intention to withdraw the US from the Paris climate accords.
Pruitt, Energy Secretary Rick Perry and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke all question the scientific consensus that carbon released into the atmosphere from burning fossil fuels is the main driver of global warming.
The Times and ProPublica analyzed EPA staffing changes through the end of September obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, and interviewed current and former EPA officials.