Beltway Confidential

Just 6.6 percent of EPA employees are 'essential'

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Beltway Confidential,EPA,Ashe Schow,Government Shutdown

Are fewer than one of every 10 Environmental Protection Agency employees essential to its work?

Only federal employees classified as “essential” can work during a government shutdown. At EPA, that means just 6.6 percent of its workforce, according to Reuters.

Of the agency’s 16,205 employees, a mere 1,069 will work through the shutdown. That means that taxpayers employ 15,136 people at the EPA who are “non-essential.”

Because of the shutdown, the EPA will not be able to work on the rules requested by President Obama in his climate plan, but Dina Kruger, a consultant and former climate change director at the EPA, said the agency would be able to complete the rules on time. It might just have to “work a little harder” once the shutdown ends.

The shutdown will also delay the comment period for the EPA's New Source Performance Standards - the proposal that would make it nearly impossible to open a new coal plant - which started on September 20, 2013.

An essential employee (sorry, “excepted” is the official term because some non-essential employees felt bad) is someone whose salary is “funded through annual appropriations” and will be “performing emergency work involving the safety of human life or the protection of property or performing certain other types of excepted work,” according to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Air traffic controllers, military personnel, border patrol agents and most law enforcement will remain working. Emergency medical care, disaster assistance and those overseeing banks, operating the power grid or guarding federal buildings will also continue working.

There are also “exempt” employees whose salaries are “not funded by annually appropriated funds.”

A non-essential employee is someone who does not fall into those categories.

Essential employees continue to work through the shutdown without pay, but will receive back pay once the shutdown stalemate ends.

Non-essential employees are not allowed to work and it is not clear whether they will receive back pay. After the last shutdown, non-essential employees did receive back pay, but the decision is up to Congress.

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