President Donald Trump could visit EPA headquarters in the near future, but sources say employees are so demoralized many wouldn’t turn out to see him.
A former EPA official told InsideEPA, “career staff will be unlikely to voluntarily attend or applaud Trump or Pruitt,” should Trump visit after the Senate confirms Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt.
The official said “agency staff would prefer not to attend what may be a command performance with the new administrator and the new president because neither have signaled support for the agency’s mission,” according to InsideEPA.
“Can Trump order EPA staff to be in the room?” the former official asked.
Trump is expected to sign between one and five executive orders targeting EPA programs once Pruitt is confirmed. It’s unclear what the orders will say, but Trump will likely target agency climate regulations.
The president promised to repeal former President Barack Obama’s Climate Action Plan and the Waters of the U.S. rule. Repealing the Climate Action Plan would mean withdrawing the Clean Power Plan rule limiting carbon dioxide emissions from power plants.
The Senate is set to confirm Pruitt Friday. Two Democrats have crossed the aisle to support Pruitt’s confirmation, while only one Republican, Maine Sen. Susan Collins, has opposed him.
EPA employees worry Trump could sign those executive orders during his visit to EPA. Such an act “would exacerbate staff concerns and further undermine morale,” InsideEPA reports. Though one former official was skeptical that would happen.
“If you have Trump going over there with Pruitt to say here are a bunch of executive orders to disempower the agency, that will send the wrong kind of message,” a former official told InsideEPA. “You have got to convey respect.”
EPA staffers are already working on ways to resist Trump’s agenda by “slow-walking” orders and using encryption apps to hide their communications. Some employees came to work in tears after Trump won in November.
Politico reported a small group of EPA staffers started “communicating incognito using the app Signal shortly after Trump’s inauguration.” Apps, like Signal, encrypt communications and make them difficult to monitor or hack.
Attorneys specializing in government records law told The Daily Caller News Foundation the use of encryption programs could violate federal laws if work-related, encrypted communications aren’t preserved.
What’s more, is some employees are expected to leak actions they don’t like to the media. EPA staff “who stay to fight actions they deem ill-advised or illegal by quietly providing information of what is happening inside their agencies to advocacy groups and the media,” Politico reported.
Axios reported “[t]here are huge, entrenched bureaucracies at these agencies, and especially at EPA, which is filled with true believers on the environmental movement, climate change, clean water and air.”
“These thousands of people will dig in and make it very difficult for the thin layer of political appointees atop these agencies to move quickly to undo their years of work to put these things in place,” Axios reported.
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