Key EPA programs are facing a steep staffing shortage that some employees worry will imperil critical chemicals work and certain Biden administration priorities, even as advocates say the agency has no real plan for fixing the problem.
Parts of the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention lack badly needed personnel, according to agency staff, posing issues for programs focused on new and existing chemicals. EPA is aware of the problem and has noted the need to attract and retain staff within those programs. But critics say that despite the acknowledgement, EPA is doing very little to improve gaps or morale.
“It’s been bad for a really long time,” said Kyla Bennett, who directs science policy for the nonprofit watchdog group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, about staffing. “I don’t think the public fully understands just how bad. I think they’d be stunned if they knew.”