A mass exodus of workers is depleting the ranks of the Environmental Protection Agency, shrinking the federal office tasked with safeguarding America’s natural resources to its smallest size in decades, the Washington Post reported on Sunday.
Since President Trump has taken office, 1,600 EPA employees have departed the EPA. The Post notes that this has shrunk its workforce “to levels not seen since the Reagan administration.”
Staff departures, coupled with a slowness to replace them, accomplishes a stated goal of the Trump administration: shrinking the federal government. In addition to the EPA, the Post notes that nearly all federal agencies are seeing dramatic reductions in workforce under Trump. This is increasingly making carrying out their missions much more difficult. And with the possibility of budget cuts still on the table, further staff attrition could be in the future.
The now former EPA staffers noted their frustration with Trump’s radically anti-environment agenda, saying it was the catalyst for their decision. Scientist Ann Williamson told the Post, “I did not want to any longer be any part of this administration’s nonsense.”
This isn’t the first time EPA employees have been vocal in their displeasure with the current dismal state of the agency. In April, 100 staffers rallied outside EPA headquarters in Washington, DC in protest of their new direction under Trump. Their union president said at the rally that working at the EPA “has been tougher than ever.”
In addition to the shift in policy, the EPA has been mired in controversy since Trump took office. Scott Pruitt, who Trump appointed to head the agency at the beginning of his presidency, suffered scandal after scandal for irresponsibly using taxpayer dollars on frivolous security measures.
Pruitt resigned earlier this year. His successor Andrew Wheeler has been met with skepticism over his ties to the coal industry. Though Wheeler’s tenure has been decidedly less cartoonish than Pruitt’s, his own ethics controversy still casts a cloud over the EPA and its mission to safeguard the country’s environmental health.
At the very least, frustrated staffers can rely on some emotional support from man’s best friend.