National parks are heating up, drying out due to climate change: study
EPA staffing falls to Reagan-era levels
The Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) staffing is now lower than it was in former President Reagan's final year in office.
An EPA spokeswoman said Tuesday that, as of Jan. 3, the agency had 14,162 employees, down from about 15,000 at the beginning of last year.
That's even lower than the 14,400 employees the agency had in fiscal year 1988, Reagan's final year.
The figures come after President Trump and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt's pledges to shrink the size of the federal government as part of their efforts to demonstrate that they are saving money and reducing regulatory burdens.
"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," Pruitt said in a statement.
If every EPA employee eligible to retire by 2021 does so, the EPA would have less than 8,000 employees by the end of Trump's term, a cut of nearly half.
The reductions have come from employees voluntarily leaving without being replaced, including through early retirements and buyouts.
The New York Times and ProPublica reported last month that some of the hundreds of employees who have left were key to critical missions at the agency.
For example, about 200 scientists had left as of last month, along with 96 environmental protection specialists and nine department directors, many of whom won't be replaced, the news organizations reported.
The Washington Examiner first reported on the EPA's current staffing figures Tuesday.