Shutdown would shutter EPA, chief says

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The warning comes as lawmakers in the House and Senate debate legislation that would keep the government running past the end of September, when current funding will run out.

McCarthy said that a small group of EPA officials would stay on the job “to keep the lights on and to respond in the event of a significant emergency,” but that most of the agency’s 17,000 employees would be sent home.

The EPA is in the middle of a number of regulatory actions that could be affected by a government shutdown. On Friday, the agency proposed to set a limit on carbon emissions from coal and natural gas power plants. Also last week, it published a report laying out its authority to regulate brooks, streams and other small bodies of water.

Fortunately for the EPA’s planning efforts, it has been in this position before. At multiple points in 2011, fiscal debates threatened to shut down the federal government.

That experience has helped the EPA and other agencies prepare for the possibility of a shutdown.

“We have developed plans the last time this came around,” McCarthy said.

“We jumpstarted a re-look at those.”