EPA issues employee buyouts to induce early retirements

The program will run until September, according to the memo.
By Paul Pate | Jun 04, 2017
The EPA might not suffer the 31% budget cut that President Trump initially intended for it, but it is anticipating lean times for the next four to eight years and is looking for ways to cut staff. It made an open invitation to its staff to retire early on Thursday with a memo describing a new employee-buyout program.

The program will run until September, according to the memo. It calls upon employees to voluntarily retire early so as to help the agency "realign out workforce to meet changing mission requirements and move toward new models of work."

The buyout program is still awaiting official White House approval. The memo said that the agency will submit its buyout proposal to the White House's Office of Management and Budget later in June and will work with the White House to "expedite the review process."

The program comes at a time when Trump-appointed EPA chief Scott Pruitt and his associates declare their intent to downsize the EPA's pollution and carbon-emissions oversight activities and put heavy emphasis on deregulation. It also coincided with President Trump's announcement Thursday that he was taking the United States out of the Paris climate-change accord. Pruitt was in the audience when Trump made this pronouncement.

Trump's budget proposals called for reducing funding for the EPA's environmental-regulations oversight by 40%, cutting Superfund spending by 25%, and cutting the EPA's Office of Science and Technology nearly in half; and for cutting EPA funding as a whole by 31%. The agency's prior funding levels stay in place for the rest of 2017, under a Congressional spending bill that passed in early May, but the outlook past 2017 remains uncertain.

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