The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is one of the major federal departments bombed by the partial government shutdown, lingering since a week after Donald Trump refrained to sign a final funding bill. Media reports revealed that the agency is about to run out of money after a week of the shutdown.
In an email to the federal employees on Thursday, obtained by Bloomberg Environment, the acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler informed that the agency would begin the shutdown procedures on Saturday, which will include steps for furloughed employees, if the negotiations between Trump and the Congress over the funding bill remained at a standstill.
“In the event an appropriation is not passed by midnight Friday, December 28th, EPA will initiate orderly shutdown procedures,” Wheeler wrote in an email.
According to Wheeler, furloughed employees will be required to update their voicemails and emails with out-of-office messages. Besides, they will also be barred from any work-related travel.
The government shutdown officially took place on December 21, when Trump denied to agree on a spending bill as it lacked the funding of $5 billion for his proposed US-Mexico border wall. While a number of federal departments and independent agencies had to endure immediate impact, the EPA was able to extend its operations via the saved amount from the federal funds for a week.
The message from the administrator suggests that the agency is now running out of those saved funds.
According to the shutdown contingency plan of EPA, over 700 employees that are crucial will be forced to work without any pay during the government shutdown, while the remaining “non-essential” workforce, over 13,000 workers, will be furloughed.
Moreover, senior officials will be required to determine what work should be continued during the shutdown, or risk an impending threat to human safety, public health or property.
The closure of the agency is expected to affect the efforts of EPA to clean Superfund sites, where hazardous waste is contaminating land. According to the EPA’s contingency plan signed last week, the agency would most likely evaluate 800 contaminated Superfund sites, in order to identify the ones posing worst public health threats in case shutdown affects the cleanup efforts.
Moreover, inspections for hazardous waste management sites, drinking water systems and chemical facilities are also expected to be impacted.
The Mexico border without the wall has not been as troublesome as Trump’s call for a wall has become. The partial government shutdown prompted a whole new set of issues in the country, where nearly 400,000 federal employees are anticipated to be affected in total. Besides, several are working without any pay during the extended Gordian government shutdown.
While only a couple of days are left for the year end, the speculations that the shutdown is likely to extend into January appear to be turning true. While the Congress and the President are unable to reach any conclusion, the chaos is expected to escalate next month, when Democrats are poised to take control of the House.
It is important for the authorities and Donald Trump to realize that the border wall is causing issues in the country, which are far more imperative than erecting physical boundaries with other countries.
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