EPA Hiring Agents to Protect Administrator Scott Pruitt

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By Renee Schoof

The EPA is facing cuts that could mean 25 percent of its employees lose their jobs, but there’s one area where the agency is hiring—special agents to protect Administrator Scott Pruitt around-the-clock.

Past administrators only had door-to-door protection on their way to and from work. The Trump administration is asking for 10 additional agents to help safeguard Pruitt.

The Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance (OECA) recently advertised for criminal investigators whose work would include “protective services detail,” as well as work in the Office of Criminal Enforcement, Forensics and Training in Washington. OEFT manages EPA’s environmental crimes investigators.

EPA said the jobs would pay about $83,000 to $129,000 a year, depending on experience.

At the same time, OECA’s other staff are in for deep cuts. President Donald Trump’s administration plans to cut civil enforcement by 1,063 employees and $7.6 million; criminal enforcement by 238 employees and $2.8 million; and compliance monitoring by 536 employees and $24 million. The EPA can cut these positions because headquarters will “focus on enforcement areas that are not delegated to states,” the budget plan said.

Congress must approve the budget, and it’s far from clear whether lawmakers will accept the steep cuts to environmental enforcement and shift more of that work to the states.

The EPA did not respond to Bloomberg BNA’s query about why Pruitt requested protection or how many agents would protect him.

An EPA spokesperson, however, did reply to a question about what Pruitt means by delegating more to authority to the states under “cooperative federalism.”

“The Administrator’s commitment to cooperative federalism means that we want to make sure states are active partners in the implementation, enforcement and development of environmental statutes,” the spokesperson said in an email. “OECA’s work is an important part of targeting the most serious water, air and chemical hazards, and we recognize their role in enforcing our environmental laws and building our relationship with states and tribal partners to make sure we are delivering on our shared commitment to a clean and healthy environment.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Renee Schoof in Washington at rschoof@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Larry Pearl at lpearl@bna.com

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