Quantcast

EPA Runs Out of Funds as Government Shutdown Drags On

Politics
A sign is displayed at the National Archives building that is closed because of a U.S. government shutdown in Washington, DC, on Dec. 22. ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS / AFP / Getty Images

The partial government shutdown that began nearly a week ago is likely to drag into the New Year, CNN reported Friday. The House and Senate both met only briefly on Thursday and made no progress towards resolving the impasse between congressional Democrats and President Donald Trump over $5 billion in spending for his proposed border wall.


"At this point, it looks like we could be in for a very long-term shutdown," North Carolina Republican Representative Mark Meadows told CNN's "The Lead with Jake Tapper."

If so, that would be bad news for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which is set to run out of funds on Friday, according to an email from acting administrator Andrew Wheeler obtained by The Hill.

"In the event an appropriation is not passed by midnight Friday, December 28th, EPA will initiate orderly shutdown procedures," Wheeler wrote.

The EPA had carryover funds to keep up normal operations when the shutdown began Dec. 21, but those funds will run out Friday. What that means is that more than 700 workers considered "essential' will have to work without pay, while more than 13,000 other employees will be furloughed, The Huffington Post explained. Wheeler said furloughed employees would be instructed to change their voice mails, enable out-of-office emails and complete their time cards. All travel for furloughed employees would be canceled.

The shutdown could also impact EPA activities that normally protect the nation's environment and public health. The Huffington Post listed some activities the shutdown could impact, according to the agency's contingency plan.

  1. The cleanup of Superfund sites
  2. Inspections of drinking water systems
  3. Inspections of hazardous waste management sites and chemical facilities
  4. Reviews of pesticides

In the case of Superfund sites, the EPA will evaluate them to see which pose the greatest public health risks if cleanup efforts are delayed.

Meanwhile, the Interior Department has been in shutdown mode for a week, and that has already taken a toll on national parks, The Hill reported. Most parks have remained open but unstaffed, and that has led to a build up of trash and a spike in illegal activities.

At Joshua Tree National Park, littering, illegal fires and illegal parking are all on the rise, according to The Los Angeles Times.

Volunteer Rand Abbott said he was trying to talk people out of this behavior, but the vast majority were hostile to his advice.

"Yesterday, I had my life threatened two times," he told The Los Angeles Times. "It's crazy in there right now."

In Texas' Big Bend National Park, staff had to close certain areas, largely because no maintenance staff is on hand to empty overflowing trash cans, National Parks Traveler reported.

"No bears have seen yet near here, but this is happening in numerous places around the park, and trash WILL attract bears," Big Bend Superintendent Bob Krumenaker wrote in an email reported by National Parks Traveler. "And that creates a safety problem for people and puts the bears at risk as they quickly become habituated to human food."

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

The 16-year-old Swede Greta Thunberg speaks during her protest action for more climate protection with a reporter. Steffen Trumpf / picture alliance / Getty Images

By Mark Hertsgaard and Kyle Pope

It's been 30 years since Bill McKibben rang the warning bells about the threat of man-made climate change — first in a piece in The New Yorker, and then in his book, The End of Nature.

Read More Show Less
At the International Motor Show (IAA), climate protestors are calling for a change in transportation politics. © Kevin McElvaney / Greenpeace

Thousands of protestors marched in front of Frankfurt's International Motor Show (IAA) on Saturday to show their disgust with the auto industry's role in the climate crisis. The protestors demanded an end to combustion engines and a shift to more environmentally friendly emissions-free vehicles, as Reuters reported.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Setting and testing the line protections for Siemens SF6 gas insulated switchgear in 2007. Xaf / Flickr / CC BY-NC 2.0

Electricity from renewable sources is growing exponentially as the technology allows for cheaper and more efficient energy generation, but there is a dark side that has the industry polluting the most powerful greenhouse gas known to humanity, as the BBC reported.

Read More Show Less
Ella Olsson / Pexels

By Elizabeth Streit, MS, RDN, LD

Sweet and regular potatoes are both tuberous root vegetables, but they differ in appearance and taste.

They come from separate plant families, offer different nutrients, and affect your blood sugar differently.

Read More Show Less
Scientists in Saskatchewan found that consuming small amounts of neonicotinoids led white-crowned sparrows to lose significant amounts of weight and delay migration, threatening their ability to reproduce. Jen Goellnitz / Flickr

By Julia Conley

In addition to devastating effects on bee populations and the pollination needed to feed humans and other species, widely-used pesticides chemically related to nicotine may be deadly to birds and linked to some species' declines, according to a new study.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored

German Chancellor Angela Merkel's government is set to unveil a package of measures on Friday, Sept. 20, to ensure that the country cuts its greenhouse gas emissions 55% by 2030, compared with the 1990 levels.

Read More Show Less
Assorted plastic bottles. mali maeder / Pexels

California ended its 2019 legislative session Saturday without passing two bills that would have led the nation in tackling plastic pollution, The Mercury News reported.

Read More Show Less
People carry children on a flooded street in Almoradi, Spain on Sept. 13. JOSE JORDAN / AFP / Getty Images

Record rainfall and flooding in southeastern Spain killed six people as of Saturday, The New York Times reported.

Read More Show Less