Trump Watch
Arches, Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC. Mark Williams / Flickr

700+ Employees Have Left the EPA Under Trump: Loss of Scientists, Staffers Undermines Agency's Purpose

Hundreds of people have quit, retired or taken buyouts from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ever since President Trump and his EPA head Scott Pruitt took office.

That figure includes more than 200 scientists and 96 are environmental protection specialists that investigate important issues such as pollution levels, according to a new report from the New York Times and ProPublica. Others that have left include nine department directors and dozens of attorneys and program managers.

“There has been a drop of employees of 770 between April and December. While several hundred of those are buyouts, the rest of those are either people that are retiring or quitting in disgust," Kyla Bennett, director of New England Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, told ThinkProgress earlier this month. “Is that number higher than it would normally be? I think it is."

Most of these positions will not be replaced, leaving the agency depleted of vital knowledge about protecting our environment and ultimately public health.

"Rolling back enforcement is very troubling—it essentially means that people are going to breathe dirtier air and drink dirtier water," Judith Enck, who served as Regional Director for EPA Region 2 during the Obama administration, explained to ThinkProgress.

The EPA had employed about 15,000 people at the end of President Obama's term.

But President Trump has proposed a drastic 31 percent cut to the EPA's budget—the largest cut to any federal agency. In June, the EPA unveiled a buyout program in an overall effort to remove 3,200 positions from the EPA, roughly 20 percent of its workforce.

“We're proud to report that we're reducing the size of government, protecting taxpayer dollars and staying true to our core mission of protecting the environment and American jobs," Pruitt said about the staff reduction program.

Pruitt has been criticized by environmentalists for leading an agency he was actively trying to undermine as Oklahoma's former attorney general. The known climate change denier has close ties to the fossil fuel industry and has sued the EPA more than a dozen times over safeguards designed to protect the the country's air and water.

Under his watch, the words climate" and "climate change" have been removed across several EPA websites. Pruitt has also issued rules that block anyone who receives an EPA grant from serving on science panels.

This mass exit of staffers comes amid a New York Times report that Republican campaign operatives were using the Freedom of Information Act to investigate agency employees critical of the Trump administration.

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Trump Administration Offers 77 Million Acres in Gulf of Mexico to Oil Industry

The Trump administration is holding the biggest offshore oil and gas lease auction in U.S. history Wednesday, offering all 77 million acres of unleased, available federal waters in the Gulf of Mexico.

The sale comes as administration officials seek to rescind drilling safety rules approved after the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster, reduce royalties paid by oil companies, and expand offshore drilling into every ocean in the country.

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Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency Scott Pruitt. Mitchell Resnick

Pruitt to Restrict Use of Scientific Data in EPA Policymaking

In the coming weeks, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt is expected to announce a proposal that would limit the type of scientific studies and data the agency can use in crafting public health and environmental regulations.

The planned policy shift, first reported by E&E News, would require the EPA to only use scientific findings whose data and methodologies are made public and can be replicated.

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Mity / Flickr / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

20% of U.S. Diets Responsible for Almost Half of Country’s Food-Related Emissions, Study Finds

If you've been deliberating about going vegetarian, a study published Tuesday in Environmental Letters might give you the final push.

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Sea Shepherd small boat assists the Liberian Coast Guard to chase down the F/V Hai Lung. Sea Shepherd

Notorious Toothfish Poacher Arrested by Liberian Coast Guard, Assisted by Sea Shepherd

A notorious Antarctic and Patagonian toothfish poaching vessel, famous for plundering the Antarctic, was arrested on March 13 in waters belonging to the West African state of Liberia by the Liberian Coast Guard, with assistance from the marine conservation group Sea Shepherd.

The F/V Hai Lung, known to the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) by its previous name "Kily," was transiting through Liberian waters when it was boarded and inspected by a Liberian Coast Guard team working alongside Sea Shepherd crew on board Sea Shepherd's patrol vessel M/Y Sam Simon.

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7 Must-See Films at the 42nd Cleveland International Film Fest

It's that time, again!

EcoWatch is proud to be a media partner of the Cleveland International Film Festival (CIFF), now celebrating its 42nd year. This year, EcoWatch is honored to be sponsoring Anote's Ark. This documentary spotlights Kiribati, a small remote island facing devastating effects due to climate change.

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Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said: 'We have approved Bayer's plans to take over Monsanto because the parties' remedies, worth well over €6 billion, meet our competition concerns in full.' EU Commission Twitter

EU Approves Controversial Bayer-Monsanto Merger

The European Union approved Bayer's takeover of Monsanto, a major hurdle in the $66 billion merger that would create the world's largest integrated seed and pesticide conglomerate.

The European Commission said the German chemical-maker's takeover of the St. Louis-based agribusiness giant is "conditional on an extensive remedy package, which addresses the parties' overlaps in seeds, pesticides and digital agriculture."

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Todd Porter & Diane Cu

How Much Daily Activity You Need to Burn off 9 Healthy (But High-Calorie) Foods

By Luke Doyle

A healthy lifestyle is fueled by nutrient-rich foods that give your body the energy it needs. But some of these foods come with high calorie counts and the "healthy" label doesn't mean it's okay to consume unlimited amounts of them.

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Marine debris laden beach in Hawaii. NOAA Marine Debris Program / Flickr

Ocean Plastic Projected to Triple Within Seven Years

If we don't act now, plastic pollution in the world's oceans is projected to increase three-fold within seven years, according to a startling new report.

The Future of the Sea report, released Wednesday for the UK government, found that human beings across the globe produce more than 300 million metric tons of plastic per year. Unfortunately, a lot of that material ends up in our waters, with the total amount of plastic debris in the sea predicted to increase from 50 million metric tons in 2015 to 150 million metric tons by 2025.

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