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EPA lost more than 1,500 workers in first 18 months of Trump administration: report
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reportedly lost 8 percent of its staff in the first 18 months of President Trump's administration due to high numbers of departing staffers and a low number of new hires.
The Washington Post reported Saturday that nearly 1,600 workers left the EPA during that time, while fewer than 400 were hired. The agency's employment has shrunk to its lowest levels since the Reagan administration, the Post noted.
According to data retrieved by the Post under a Freedom of Information Act request, the EPA has lost as many as 260 scientists, 106 engineers and 185 "environmental protection specialists," numbers which include both longtime veterans of the department and less experienced employees.
The departures have raised fears of a loss of experience at the agency, the Post reported. According to the paper, a number of employees left their posts citing discontent with new policy directions under the Trump administration.
"I felt it was time to leave given the irresponsible, ongoing diminishment of agency resources, which has recklessly endangered our ability to execute our responsibilities as public servants," one former EPA scientist, Ann Williamson, told the Post.
"I did not want to any longer be any part of this administration's nonsense," she added.
EPA acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler told the Post in a statement that his focus is on recruitment and finding quality staffers for the department - not total staffing levels - noting that many other employees have contracts expiring within the next five years.
"With nearly half of our employees eligible to retire in the next five years, my priority is recruiting and maintaining the right staff, the right people for our mission, rather than total full-time employees," he said.
Trump's former EPA chief Scott Pruitt, who departed the agency amid scandal earlier this year, told The Hill in January that he was proud of staff reductions at the agency, which he called part of the president's plan to shrink government.
"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 at the time.