President Biden’s $6.8 trillion budget seeks to add 2,400 new employees to the Environmental Protection Agency — a more than 16% jump from its current staffing levels.
Mr. Biden wants to boost the EPA’s funding by $1.9 billion over the sum approved by Congress last year. Overall, the EPA’s budget would be $12 billion.
“EPA is at the center of President Biden’s ambitious environmental agenda and the [budget] will ensure the Agency delivers bold environmental actions and economic benefits for all,” said Michael Regan, the agency’s administrator.
Most of the new money would go to hiring 2,400 additional full-time employees at the agency. Currently, the EPA has more than 14,800 employees across the country. The figure is significantly lower than the 17,000 staffers employed at the start of the Obama administration.
White House officials say the EPA lacks the adequate staff needed to crack down on polluters. Mr. Biden blamed the lack of staff on former President Donald Trump, who saw an exodus of more than 1,200 EPA staffers during his four years in office.
“Staffing reductions under the previous administration continue to undermine the Agency’s ability to carry out its mission to protect clean air and water, tackle the climate crisis, and promote environmental justice,” said a White House budget memo accompanying Mr. Biden’s budget.
Mr. Biden pledged during the 2020 presidential race that climate change would be a “whole of government” initiative for his administration. Since coming into office, Mr. Biden has issued executive orders mandating government departments reduce their fossil fuel footprint.
The president also got Congress to approve new funding for the EPA. The $1.2 trillion infrastructure law is set to boost EPA funding by $90 billion over the next decade.
Democrats say the additional money won’t make an impact if there are not enough staffers at the EPA to oversee its disbursal.