The nation’s top environmental agency is still reeling from the exodus of more than 1,200 scientists and policy experts during the Trump administration. The chemicals chief said her staff can’t keep up with a mounting workload. The enforcement unit is prosecuting fewer polluters than at any time in the past two decades.
And now this: the stressed-out, stretched-thin Environmental Protection Agency is scrambling to write about a half dozen highly complex rules and regulations that are central to President Biden’s climate goals.
The new rules have to be enacted within the next 18 months — lightning speed in the regulatory world — or they could be overturned by a new Congress or administration.
The regulations are already delayed months past E.P.A.’s own self-imposed deadlines, raising concerns from supporters in Congress and environmental groups. “It’s very fair to say we are not where we hoped we’d be,” said Miles Keogh, executive director of the National Association of Clean Air Agencies, which represents most state and local air regulators.
As staffing at the E.P.A. thinned out, the workload only increased, both the agency and its critics say.
Career employees are being “worked to death,” said Betsy Southerland, a former top E.P.A. scientist. “They’re under the greatest pressure they’ve ever been.” [Continue reading…]