Shrink­ing the EPA

The Week (US) - - News -

Since Trump’s in­au­gu­ra­tion, his hos­til­ity to­ward the agency has sparked an ex­o­dus of ca­reer em­ploy­ees—and has had a dispir­it­ing ef­fect on those who have re­mained be­hind. Dur­ing his first 18 months in of­fice, 1,600 EPA work­ers left the agency, while fewer than 400 were hired. The short­fall shrank the agency’s work­force to lev­els not seen since Ron­ald Rea­gan was pres­i­dent. “It’s re­ally aw­ful to feel like you don’t have any role to play, that there’s not any in­ter­est in the work you’re do­ing,” said Betsy Smith, 62, who re­tired in June af­ter 20 years with the EPA’s Of­fice of Re­search and Devel­op­ment. “My feel­ing was I could do bet­ter work to pro­tect the en­vi­ron­ment out­side the EPA.” The down­siz­ing will likely con­tinue. Half of the EPA’s work­ers are eligible to re­tire within five years, and Wheeler re­cently said his fo­cus will be on get­ting the “right peo­ple” for the agency’s re­de­fined mis­sion, rather than fo­cus­ing on “to­tal full-time em­ploy­ees.”

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