On Thursday Myron Ebell, former head of President Trump's transition team at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), said in an interview with The Associated Press that he expects to see massive cuts in the agency's budget. The results of a cut in budget allocation would result in significant staffing reductions.
The EPA's workforce nationwide is around 15,000 employees. While Ebell wouldn't go into specifics during the interview, the expectation comes after extensive political noise from the Trump White House regarding budget reductions across the board to reduce the size of government.
"Let's aim for half and see how it works out, and then maybe we'll want to go further," said Ebell during the interview, though noting that these estimates would be his target reduction. Ebell has been a long time critic of environmental protections, which he claims impede economic and job growth. He has now returned to his position as director of the Center for Energy and Environment at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, which is a conservative think-tank that opposes alarmist views on global warming and receives funding from pro-fossil fuel corporations and individuals.
According to the Chicago Tribune, "Ebell suggested it was reasonable for the president to seek a cut of about $1 billion from the EPA's roughly $8 billion annual budget." This severity of reduction would significantly impact parts of the EPA's enforcement division, while also slashing much of their operations. In addition, almost half of EPA's budget is allocated to local and state environmental clean up projects, which the Trump White House continues to support.
In The Associated Press interview, Ebell said, "President Trump said during the campaign that he would like to abolish the EPA, or 'leave a little bit." He went on to say, "I think the administration is likely to start proposing cuts to the 15,000 staff, because the fact is that a huge amount of the work of the EPA is actually done by state agencies. It's not clear why so many employees are needed at the federal level." The EPA was created during the Nixon administration after national public frustration of out of control air and water pollution, along with corporate indifference.
This all comes after the Trump administration has put freezing on all federal agency jobs. Also, the AP reported Wednesday that Trump's political appointees have been scrutinizing reports and data published on the agency's websites for potential removal, especially details of scientific evidence showing that the Earth's climate is warming and man-made carbon emissions are to blame. This is very disturbing because the public and media rely on the EPA for scientifically peer reviewed resources.
In the interview, Ebell claims that the Obama administration had staffed the EPA with scientists who further the climate change agenda and released a lot of "junk science". All of this follows a joint statement released by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said that 2016 was the warmest year on record, since scientists began measuring temperature in the late 19th century.
"The fact is that in modern society we have the technology to deal with environmental challenges, and that's why people live in Phoenix," Ebell said. "Because warm is good, as long as we have air conditioning."