|Environmental Protection Agency headquarters (Photo: Getty Images/iStockphoto)|
Scott Fallon reports for The Record:
The Trump administration’s planned job cuts at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency may not be as harsh to the regional office that oversees New Jersey’s 114 federal Superfund sites and other programs.
The buyouts of 30 employees at the EPA's Region 2 office, which serves primarily New Jersey and New York, are far fewer than buyout plans at other regional offices, where more than 150 employees are targeted. The EPA has proposed to cut its total workforce by 8 percent, or 1,200 positions, by September through early retirement and buyout incentives of up to $25,000 per employee.
But a former head of Region 2 and the union that represents more than 700 employees say they expect more staff cuts in the years ahead for an agency that Trump has said is an impediment to economic growth.
Antony Tseng, president of American Federation of Government Employees Local 3911, says losing even 30 of the office's 787 staffers will have an impact on the day-to-day work the EPA does in New Jersey and New York.
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"We actually need more people to do our jobs more effectively," said Tseng, an EPA engineer. "Our budget has been stagnant. We've had a hiring freeze for some time. So when this comes along, it's disheartening."
New Jersey has the most Superfund sites in the nation.
Liz Bowman, an EPA spokeswoman, said the buyouts were simply "streamlining and reorganizing" to make the agency work better.
"This is a process that mirrors what Obama’s EPA did about four years ago, with similar goals of focusing on the skill sets necessary for meeting evolving needs and streamlining functions and activities," she said.
Catherine McCabe, acting administrator for Region 2, would not comment.
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