Government Cutbacks Continue to Roll in and Damage Workers
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is on the chopping block as President Donald Trump and his administration look to shed 1,200 jobs by September and otherwise dismantle the department.
The departures numbers will be achieved through buyouts and early retirements, amounting to about an eight-percent culling of the 15,000-person workforce at the EPA, while a hiring freeze should sustain that number for at least the near future, unless more cuts are to follow.
The EPA has long been in the sights of both Trump and the EPA’s current head, Scott Pruitt. The two have vowed to massively reduce the scope and size of the EPA, and this may be the first of many cuts to come.
Trump has not been as keen as his predecessor, Barack Obama, on climate change and the environment. After pulling out of the Paris Climate Accord recently and claiming that global warming was a hoax concocted by China, this administration is a far cry from the Obama administration’s view on the environment.
The agency’s buyout plans will need approval by the Office of Personnel Management and the Office of Management and Budget, which officials hope will be dealt with by the end of the month.
One issue with the plan is the cost. A total of $12.0 million has been set aside for buyouts and early retirements, but considering past buyout prices, that is not nearly enough. In 2014, the agency spent $11.3 million just to get 456 employees to leave voluntarily, on top of $4.9 million in annual leave payouts, totalling at $16.2 million.
EPA Administrator Pruitt has continued to defend the cuts, believing that this is the best way forward for the agency.
“With respect to the proposed cuts on personnel, that is something that we plan to achieve through attrition, continuation of the hiring freeze and the initiation of buyouts,” Pruitt said last week on Capitol Hill. “About 20 percent of the agency is eligible for retirement today. That’s going to increase over the next several years.”
This represents one of the deepest cuts that the Trump administration has made so far in government spending, looking to dramatically reduce the EPA. Those on the left are concerned that this move, alongside the withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord, will only further push the U.S. down the path towards irreparably harmful climate change, and distance the country from many other nations that are seeking to counter the ill effects of carbon in the atmosphere.
“EPA plans to buy out more than 1,200 employees by the end of summer,” Philly.com, June 20, 2017.