Largest National EPA Union Applauds Senate Climate Breakthrough

Marie Owens Powell, President of AFGE Council 238, which represents 7,500 Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) workers nationwide, released the following statement in response to Sunday’s vote by the U.S. Senate to pass the Inflation Reduction Act. 

“Two months ago, the UN Secretary General said the world’s biggest carbon emitters, including the U.S., must drastically, and immediately, cut emissions if global climate catastrophe is to be averted. The Senate has responded. The passage of the Inflation Reduction Act is a giant leap forward in confronting the climate emergency that threatens the future of our planet. 

“Our EPA scientists and engineers will act quickly and diligently to use the expanded authority under the IRA to cut the release of greenhouse gasses, which is the cause of the climate emergency. The new work handed to EPA is monumental—the bill will provide EPA with $41.5 billion to address climate change and advance environmental and climate justice. It includes funds to reduce emissions of greenhouse gasses, including methane; to employ zero-emission technology; to reduce air pollution in ports and elsewhere; and to empower low-income and disadvantaged communities with expanded roles in responding to climate change.

“Now that EPA has more authority to fight pollutants, we need to invest in the workforce that will be delivering the reductions to greenhouse gasses under the IRA. This law will require an even more expert and experienced EPA workforce than ever before. We must act quickly to put the right staff in place to implement this enormous effort, and to provide them with the support and working conditions they need to accomplish the critical  task in front of them.

“We have been here before. The nation put its trust in EPA to clean up our air and water under the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act, with game changing results. Air quality and public health drastically improved, saving thousands of lives every year. 

“Congress just provided tools to slash pollution. If we support the EPA workforce tackling the climate crisis, we can quickly eliminate the largest sources of pollution to avoid the most alarming climate effects.”