Congressman Proposes Firing EPA Workers Because They Were Furloughed In Government Shutdown

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The lesson one Republican congressman learned from the government shutdown is that the Environmental Protection Agency should lay off more of its workforce.

According to Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-VA), because 94 percent of EPA staff were deemed “non-essential” in the shutdown, they are also unimportant. “If that is the case they should be able to cut 15 percent,” he told a Virginia paper. Griffith will introduce a bill that would force the EPA to cut 15 percent of its staff.

Griffith also argued last month that the EPA should devote more time and staff to hearing concerns in coal country.

Every day, the EPA oversees basic functions that protect the environment, air, and water. During the shutdown, toxic waste site cleanups, clean air and water regulations, mileage standards for vehicles, the Energy Star program, and more came to a halt. Even now, the EPA is still playing catch up on important work sidetracked by the shutdown. It missed a deadline for a final rule requiring 1,000 power plants to obtain Clean Water Act permits. Likewise, the EPA delayed chemical safety rules and public hearings that follow this summer’s Texas plant explosion by at least a month.

But Republicans celebrated these effects of the shutdown. Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) even declared the shutdown was not “all bad” because the EPA could not enforce many of the regulations the Republican disagrees with.

If Griffith’s bill came to the floor, it would easily pass, The Hill’s Pete Kasperowicz writes. After all, this is a Congress that regularly challenges EPA authority and passed 317 anti-environment bills in its last session