The Trump administration's latest tactic to dismantle the Environmental Protection Agency includes getting rid of more than 1,200 employees by early September, according to the Washington Post.
"Through buyouts and early retirements" eight percent of the EPA's workforce — which is still under a hiring freeze — will disappear, the Post reported. There are currently 15,000 employees that work for the EPA, and President Donald Trump has already proposed a 31 percent cut to the agency's budget. The Post reported:
In an email to EPA union leaders this week, an agency attorney said the EPA plans to make buyout offers to as many as 1,228 employees. “As of now,” the message read, “the last effective date for employee separations is September 2, 2017, so any applications would have to be in before that date.”
The agency’s buyout plans will need approval by the Office of Personnel Management and the Office of Management and Budget, which officials hope to receive later this month. “However, in the meantime, we are seeking to work together to reach an agreement over procedures that we will utilize for this next round — should it be approved,” the email stated.
Officials have disclosed plans to put $12 million aside for the buyouts and early retirements as the agency also plans to hold "retirement training webinars for employees" two days per week through the month of July, according to the Post.
In a hearing on Capitol Hill last week, Scott Pruitt, the head of the agency (who questioned the science of climate change) defended plans to continue to dismantle 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, according to the Post. "About 20 percent of the agency is eligible for retirement today. That’s going to increase over the next several years."
Last month the EPA fired five scientists who were members of the Board of Science Counselors and replaced them with corporate insiders of the fossil fuel industry.
The $12 million set aside for the current crop of targeted EPA staffers will likely not be enough money to buy out 1,200 employees. The agency had to shell out $11.3 million in order to 456 employees to voluntarily leave in 2014, the Post reported.
It goes without saying that science and the environment are not only not a top priority for the Trump administration, they are depicted as a burden.