The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is taking one of the biggest hits during the government shutdown as it is operating with just 6.6 percent of its usual employees.
According to Reuters, 1,069 EPA employees have been classified as essential. The EPA normally has 16,205 employees. Among those furloughed are most workers at the Office of Air and Radiation, which is in charge of writing and implementing most of the EPA’s major air pollution rules. The clock would also stop, temporarily, on the EPA’s eagerly-awaited proposal on renewable fuel volume standards for 2014.
“People are not going to be able to be working on these rules at home,” Dina Kruger, an environmental regulation consultant and former climate change director at the EPA, told Reuters.
Kruger, who worked at the agency during the 1996 government shutdown, did note that for EPA rules due in 2014 under President Barack Obama’s Climate Action Plan, the agency should be able to complete its work on time, even if it has “to work a little harder” depending on the length of the shutdown.
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The EPA’s proposals for 2014 U.S. biofuel-use targets were sent to the White House in late August and remain under review at the Office of Management and Budget. The targets are due to be finalized in December but that deadline could slip depending on the length of a shutdown.
Townhall.com notes that the essential workers make up just 6.6 percent of the EPA’s workforce and asks the question, “Why is it that we have an agency that could run on less than 7 percent of current staff? To be clear that means more than 9 out of every 10 employees at the EPA are non-essential.”