By Doug Cunningham
About 25 percent of the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget is being cut in the Trump budget. Approximately 3,000 EPA jobs will be cut—going from 15,000 down to 12,000.
John O’Grady is president of AFGE’s National Council of EPA Locals, the largest union representing EPA workers.
“Morale is in the basement, possibly lower. We’re already at a point where we don’t have enough staff to do everything that Congress has tasked us with. And to reduce the staff by another three thousand is going to make it impossible for U.S. EPA to protect human health and the environment,” Grady said. “They’re going to cut climate change activities. They’re going to cut Waters of The United States. If you like to fish, if you just like to enjoy nature, that may impact your ability to have those enjoyments.”
O’Grady says federal enforcement capacity and standards are also endangered by these cuts. That would lead to different environmental standards and enforcement by the states rather than having a uniform national standard for environmental protection.
“It’s too easy for a plant manager to say to a governor, ‘look get these guys off my back. I bring ten thousand jobs to the state. Do you want me to leave?’ And what’s the governor going to do? Is he going to say no, that EPA regulation stays in place? No, he’s going to loosen it.”
Instead of trying to improve EPA’s environmental protection mission, the Trump administration is attacking, dismantling and suppressing it.
O’Grady says the bullying at EPA includes attacking AFGE, the largest union representing EPA workers.
“Going after our dues deductions, automatic payroll deductions. They’re doing a number of other things that will inhibit us from continuing to represent. That’s the kind of thing that sends a chilling effect throughout the agency. So that people think OK you don’t mess with these guys, I’ll lose my job. I’ve got a family, I’ve got a house mortgage, etc, etc. So yeah, people are keeping their heads down. There’s no question we’re under attack.”