Union Concerned About Energy Dept. Sustainability Employees

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By Rebecca Kern

A union representing Energy Department workers has raised concerns about the future of employees within the Sustainability Performance Office, which works to reduce the agency’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Jeff Eagan, president of the Energy union, said that the two federal employees in the Sustainability Program Office who are represented by the union will be temporarily moved to the Office of Asset Management under the office’s acting director Scott Whiteford, according to a federal employee meeting at the agency headquarters April 25 that Eagan attended.

“We are concerned about the future of the mission of the office, as well as the federal staff who remain,” Eagan said. He heads the National Treasury Employees Union Chapter 213 at Energy headquarters.

The Sustainability Performance Office oversees sustainability within the agency “to improve environmental, energy and economic performance while reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” according to the Energy Department’s website.

Eagan said the office has reduced the department’s greenhouse gas footprint by 50 percent over 10 years.

The Trump administration has proposed to reduce funding for climate science work done at the Energy Department and the Environmental Protection Agency in its fiscal year 2018 budget blueprint.

“The Sustainability Performance Office and its employees are continuing their work,” a department spokeswoman said in response to a query.

The department said it does not plan to close the Sustainability Performance Office on or after May 10.

Director of Sustainability Program Out

Separately, John Shonder, the director of the Sustainability Performance Office, will leave the agency May 10, the department spokeswoman told Bloomberg BNA. Shonder had served in the role since May 11, 2015, in a two-year assignment from Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Shonder was part of an Intergovernment Personnel Act (IPA) program in which federal employees are temporarily assigned to other government, academic or federally funded research and development centers. Eagan’s union does not represent IPA employees or contractors.

However, Eagan said it is standard for IPAs to get renewed for a third year of service.

“We did not see this coming,” he said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Rebecca Kern in Washington at rKern@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Paul Connolly at pconnolly@bna.com

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