EPA threatens to close New York City office after Trump threats to 'anarchist' cities

EPA threatens to close New York City office after Trump threats to 'anarchist' cities
© Bonnie Cash

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is the first agency following through on President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden holds massive cash advantage over Trump ahead of Election Day Tax records show Trump maintains a Chinese bank account: NYT Trump plays video of Biden, Harris talking about fracking at Pennsylvania rally MORE’s pledge to withhold federal funds from “anarchist” jurisdictions, threatening to remove an agency office from Manhattan due to alleged safety concerns.

The Justice Department on Monday named New York, along with Portland, Ore., and Seattle as such cities as Trump has sought to politicize protests as part of his law-and-order image heading into the final weeks of the campaign.

In a letter to New York Gov. Andrew CuomoAndrew CuomoOvernight Health Care: NIH chief: Trump has not met with task force in 'quite some time' | CDC reports 300,000 more deaths than expected this year | UK to start challenge trials for vaccine Cuomo: Travel within Tri-State area should be avoided due to COVID-19 spike California plans to review coronavirus vaccine independently MORE (D) and New York City Mayor Bill de BlasioBill de BlasioCitigroup executive to run for NYC mayor: report Treasury withheld nearly M from FDNY 9/11 health program New York theaters display banners urging governor to reopen cinemas MORE (D), EPA Administrator Andrew WheelerAndrew WheelerOVERNIGHT ENERGY: EPA may violate courts with new rule extending life of unlined coal ash ponds | Trump reverses course, approving assistance for California wildfires | Climate change, national security among topics for final Trump-Biden debate EPA may violate courts with new rule extending life of unlined coal ash ponds EPA allows use of radioactive material in some road construction MORE characterized summer protests in the city as a danger to the agency’s Manhattan office.


“If you cannot demonstrate that EPA employees will be safe accessing our New York City offices, then I will begin the process of looking for a new location for our regional headquarters outside of New York City that can maintain order. I have an obligation to our employees, and if the city is unwilling or incapable of doing its job, I will do mine and move them to a location that can competently fulfill the basic mission of a local government,” Wheeler wrote in the letter first reported by the New York Post.

The letter said the EPA accused protesters of “unwarranted, violent activity at the facility, breaking windows and defacing/destroying government property.”

Those July demonstrations against police brutality earned criticism not just from the Trump administration, but from some New Yorkers, who accused the city of being too aggressive in cracking down on the protests.

According to reporting from The New York Times, the city’s one instance of significant property damage occurred in early June in response to the death of George Floyd.  

"We know Administrator Wheeler doesn't understand climate or the environment, just look at his record at the EPA so far, but we did think he could tell time. Why he is writing us a letter about events from two months ago defies comprehension, but then again, so does most of the Trump Administration’s actions. This is nothing more than the latest political stunt from the Trump Administration,” Julia Arredondo, deputy press secretary for the mayor, said in an email to The Hill. 


Cuomo’s office also dismissed the letter.

"Another day, another transparent political game from this federal government. The fact is the EPA has abandoned every state since 2017 and they should quit playing political flunky and actually do their job,” said Rich Azzopardi, senior adviser to the governor.

New York City has threatened to sue the Trump administration over the Justice Department action.

“The President and [Attorney General William] Barr’s latest stunt is pure politics AND unconstitutional. We will see them (and beat them) in court if we have to,” de Blasio tweeted Monday.