Enviro-Newsbrief September 14, 1995
The following is a daily update providing news of interest
to EPA staff. It includes information from current news sources,
including newspapers, newsletters, and other publications. For
more information, contact the EPA Headquarters Library at (202)
260-5921, or e-mail LIBRARY-HQ.
** BUDGET **
Anxious Employees Get No Career Assurances. Washington Post,
September 14, 1995. p. A21.
As Congress threatens to cut the agency budget by one third,
employees are preparing for reductions in staff and programs. The
mood surrounding EPA Headquarters is aptly being described as
"somber." In a worst case scenario, as many as 5,000 employees
could be forced to leave the agency. Even if the worst case
doesn't materialize, a long drawn out battle over the agency's
budget will also likely cause a temporary shutdown with
furloughs, resulting in loss of pay.
The House has passed a 34 per cent cut in the agency's
budget and a Senate committee approved a cut 23 per cent from the
administration's proposal for next year. A Senate floor vote is
expected at the end of September; the bills will then go to
conference committee to work out any differences.
On Monday, Administrator Carol M. Browner and Deputy
Administrator Fred Hanson hosted an outdoor "town meeting" for
employees. The first steps taken were to inform temporary workers
that their jobs will end and to freeze all hiring and promotions.
Browner did add, however, that "We will fight any cut that denies
us the ability to keep the environment safe for the American
people. . . I believe that ultimately we will prevail, but it
will not be without a very difficult, mean fight," Browner said.
In response to complaints about the way top agency officials
have been handling the threatened budget cuts, Browner pointed
out Congress has identified specific programs for cuts, leaving
the agency no choice in the which areas will be reduced or
terminated or which jobs will be cut. "We would like to work with
Congress, but that's impossible if they don't share our
commitment to environmental protection," said Browner.
With 18,500 employees, including several thousand scattered
throughout the country, the EPA is not as able to absorb the
proposed cuts as are other departments with larger staffs. The
effect could be that some of the best environmental specialists
will move to the private sector. In addition, more than jobs are
being lost. The proposals cut the budget for enforcing federal
environmental laws by 50%, cleaning up toxic waste dumps by 36%,
and decreasing the funding for the removal of raw sewage from
rivers and lakes by $600 million.
Job Placement Plan For Laid-Off Workers Ordered by Clinton.
Washington Post, September 14, 1995. p. A21.
In an attempt to relieve some of the stress caused by
government downsizing, the administration directed federal
agencies to institute "career transition" programs to help their
employees who may be leaving.
A memo distributed Tuesday advised agencies to give first
consideration to former federal workers when filling vacant
positions. Clinton said agencies should choose a "well-qualified
surplus or displaced internal agency employee who applies for a
vacant position in the commuting area before selecting any other
candidate from either within or outside the agency." Other
suggestions for hiring practices and coordination with state and
local governments are designed to ease the transition of the many
federal employees who are feeling the effects of the downsizing
that has reduced federal employment by 160,000 jobs since 1993.
Senate Democrats to Fight Riders on EPA Funding Measure. Daily
Environment Report, September 14, 1995, p. AA-1.
The Senate Appropriations Committee approved its version of
HR 2099 by a 17-11 vote. The Senate version of the bill proposes
to cut 23 percent of EPA's budget, slightly less that the 34
percent reduction offered by the House. The bill still contains
eleven riders that will affect water rules, superfund, clean air,
and hazardous waste cleanup laws. In response to the Senate
proposal, Administrator Browner stated, "Not only are
Congressional Republicans systematically dismantling
environmental standards that stop polluters from polluting --
they are also proposing massive cuts in the programs through
which responsible companies work cooperatively with government to