A retiring Environmental Protection Agency employee said career staff were “frankly insulted” when President Donald Trump visited agency headquarters to sign an executive order rolling back global warming policies.
Michael Cox, a retiring EPA staffer who worked on global warming programs, wrote in a letter to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt that it “was beyond comprehension that an administration could be so arrogant and callous.”
Trump visited EPA headquarters in Washington, D.C., in late March to sign an executive order asking the agency to review the Clean Power Plan—an Obama-era regulation limiting carbon dioxide emissions from power plants.
The Clean Power Plan was the cornerstone of President Barack Obama’s “Climate Action Plan.” Trump’s order also eliminated Obama-era directives to federal agencies on global warming and an Interior Department moratorium on new coal mining leases on federal lands.
Cox says these actions were an insult to EPA employees who work on these issues. Previous news reports highlighted the tension between career staffers and the Trump administration.
One former EPA official suggested career staff would boycott Trump if he ever visited the agency. That’s on top of reports staffers sent encrypted text messages to resist the administration’s goal, and news that employees would slow-walk or even ignore orders.
One unnamed EPA employee told ProPublica “more than a few friends were ‘coming to work in tears’ each morning as they grappled with balancing the practical need to keep their jobs with their concerns for the issues they work on.”
“One of the main purposes of my letter was to really get across to Administrator Pruitt that for him to be successful … the career staff have to really be a part of that whole thing,” Cox told Politico.
Cox’s letter comes after a leaked budget document revealed more details about where the Trump administration is looking to cut. The White House recommended cutting EPA’s budget 31 percent and reducing its workforce by 20 percent, or 3,200 employees.
Among those let go could be 224 full-time employees in the EPA’s Climate Protection Program, according to the leaked memo. Cutting those positions would save $70 million.
Pruitt is set to meet with Trump in the White House Tuesday afternoon. It’s unclear exactly what the two will discuss, but budget issues and the recent executive order are likely topics.
Pruitt and Trump could also talk about nominating political appointees to fill positions at the EPA. Republicans have expressed concern over not having political appointees in place to help Pruitt carry out Trump’s agenda.
“It’s not shaping out as well as it should,” Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhofe told Politico. “They’re not there yet where they can be very productive.”
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