Work is poised to stop at research sites as confusion spreads at federal agencies.
What will happen to the federal government’s environmental protection work if Congress can’t pass a funding bill on time? Right now, it’s hard to say.
A shutdown generally leads to furloughs for “nonessential” employees, which means their work can’t continue. It’s a little murky who falls into the “essential” category, and there are contradictory reports on how the shutdown would actually play out.
The Environmental Protection Agency, for example, has a government shutdown contingency plan posted on its website. Among other things, the plan calls for stopping work at EPA’s 29 laboratories across the United States except to respond to imminent threats to public health.
However, the agency may not stick to the document. “To take that plan and deduce what is actually going to happen is not accurate reporting,” spokesman Jahan Wilcox told Bloomberg.
The US Department of Energy, which runs 17 national laboratories and funds research on clean energy, said it will remain open regardless of the shutdown.
“All DOE federal employees are expected to report to work on your next scheduled work day and subsequent work days unless you have previously approved leave or are given formal notice by your management not to report to work,” according to an email sent to agency employees.
The Department of the Interior said it will keep national parks open, a reversal of its policy during the 2013 shutdown, but lawmakers said they’re concerned the parks could still close.
— Natural Resources (@NatResources) January 19, 2018