Environmental Impact of the 2019 Shutdown

While the human impact of the government shutdown is far-reaching, the environmental impact is also of grave concern. National Parks have remained open but with no security or hospitality staff on site, they are being abused and neglected. Water quality and food safety testing aren’t occurring. Large environmental issues such as pollution monitoring and compliance have been shut down. Meanwhile the Department of Interior is recalling furloughed workers for oil and gas permitting as well as opening up federal lands for hunting – prioritizing special interests over environmental protection and legal restrictions of a government shutdown.

PEER PRESS RELEASE: Federal Shutdown Becoming a Polluters’ Holiday

Important federal biological, pollution, and even food safety monitoring has been suspended as thousands of federal workers are furloughed and forbidden from working, according to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). These interruptions create risks for both human health and environmental protection, extending even to endangered species. The Food & Drug Administration has suspended most of its food inspections intended to prevent food-borne illnesses, although the agency is considering resuming some portion of screening. Read the Press Release

PEER PRESS RELEASE: Interior Department Gaming the Shutdown

The U.S. Department of Interior has ordered employees in several bureaus to perform nonemergency work in potential violation of the law, according to a complaint filed today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). Despite the government shutdown, Interior staff are now being directed to process oil and gas drilling permits and prepare environmental analyses for expanded hunting in national wildlife refuges, among other tasks that fall outside the shutdown law’s exception for “cases of emergency involving the safety of human life or the protection of property.” Read the Press Release

Vox: Joshua Tree National Park Has Been Trashed in the Shutdown

According to National Parks Traveler, visitors are creating illegal roads and driving into some of the park’s most fragile areas. They are also chopping down trees, setting illegal fires, and graffitiing rocks.  Read the Vox story . . .

The Guardian: ‘It’s a nightmare’: Americans’ health at risk as shutdown slashes EPA

The US government shutdown has stymied environmental testing and inspections, prompting warnings that Americans’ health is being put at increasing risk as the shutdown drags on. Read The Guardian story . . .

The Hill: Group Asks Watchdog to Investigate Recall of Furloughed Interior Workers

An environmental advocacy group formally asked the Government Accountability Office (GAO) on Tuesday to investigate whether the Interior Department’s recall of furloughed employees during the government shutdown is legal. Read The Hill story . . .