Streams

Shutdown Hits Environmental Agency Hard

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

The U.S. Government is shutting down non-essential services for the first time in nearly two decades, and thousands of federal workers are being told to stay home. In the EPA’s Region II, which covers New York and New Jersey, just 36 out of 861 staff are being asked to report to work throughout the shutdown.

“A few of us will be on call, and let’s hope there are no emergencies,” said Region II Administrator Judith Enck.

If there is a severe storm or a toxic spill, Enck said the EPA will be there. But Paul Sacker, an environmental engineer for the agency, predicted problems. “If we’re not policing the environment, it’s going to open the door for some bad actors to get away with stuff for a while if we’re not watching,” Sacker said.

For example, Sacker oversees around 50,000 underground storage tanks, where fuel is kept for commercial gas stations. Sacker believes just the threat of a shutdown has disrupted this work: a chain of gas stations around Buffalo just pulled out of a planned settlement with the EPA.

Sacker, who was with the EPA during the 1995-1996 shutdown, says staying home from work is no fun.

“I was a nervous wreck the whole time. I was nervous about my pay!” he said.

When the last shutdown ended, Congress voted to pay federal workers retroactively. This time, with the angry words coming out of Washington, Sacker isn’t counting on it.

Editors:

Julianne Welby

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Comments [5]

Paul Sacker from Little Neck

To Chris from New York,

Please get your facts straight. I personally never publicly endorsed any candidate for President - ever. Nor has our Local, which remains politically neutral as our members come from both parties. Nor do I believe I gave any interview in June regarding sequestration and the GOP.

Oct. 02 2013 08:15 AM
Hubert from 97530

You been had. Apology forthcoming?

Oct. 01 2013 08:37 PM
Theo from Seattle

Can't you do better than interviewing a union shill?
This should be billed as advertising, not represented as NEWS.

Oct. 01 2013 08:10 PM
Chris from New York

Paul Sacker writes that your article will help Federal Employees. I guess thats the new point of journalism these days, in addition to towing the White House line.

And by the way, is this the same Paul Sacker who is president of American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) Local 3911? The same guy who publicly endorsed Barack Obama for President in 2012? The same guy who gave an interview bashing the GOP about the sequester in June?

Quite surprising that this unionist, anti Republican, friend of the President would be supporting the presidents policy!

Oct. 01 2013 05:53 PM
Paul Sacker from Little Neck, NY

Great piece Ilya. Your article will help EPA and Federal employees immensely. Thank you so much.

Oct. 01 2013 02:53 PM

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