Largest union for EPA employees holds Save the EPA event

ABC News' MaryAlice Parks talks with representatives from the union, the Sierra Club and the National Wildlife Federation.
7:56 | 09/13/17

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Transcript for Largest union for EPA employees holds Save the EPA event
Good afternoon I'm Mary Alice parks you were just from watching I. Here in DC about budget times they need to receive the Environmental Protection Agency acting. Your slogans and environmental groups and the head of one of the largest. Employee unions representing a number and nine out with an. EPA employees obviously a lot of conversation here in this town of without budget I think. On Capitol Hill and what should or shouldn't need not I it is not surprising that a Republican administration would. Decide soup hot and Taylor back. Some large federal agencies and I'm curious why in some ways this is not a success story as you guys talked about their during a press conference. The -- administration suggested a 30%. Cut to be EPA and right now we're looking at maybe out five or 7% cut in the Republican proposed. Budget on Capitol Hill so why are you guys not celebrating the. So I'll jump in first I mean I think a lot of time thinking I would fight. Thanks to ridiculous negotiating strategy risks are so outlandish and I'll send you moderate a little bit obstinacy that some kind of compromise. The promise that the of the cup the last ten years it's been devastating for the agency while I'm conservatives basic. Health and safety response needs talking mad when we have more more these disasters and I think that's a piece going to be losses. 56%. Of how many huge number that means hundreds of pounds of bodies and art Mueller responded to the disaster in the community coming to you soon and that's were orchestra. Or as I didn't do introductions are are really really could things I have Marion hit his with this year at club. John O'Grady representing that large employee union I was talking about and Callan O'Meara went that National Wildlife Federation. So John what do what you that question of employees how many employees went. Would maybe be plot out and let emotions such a cut sort of be enacted US talking about specific officers or programs that might eat. Rolled back or closed if their words if Iverson cuts EPA's budget which offices would be closed which programs would be. We'll be sent down to their first. Well first of all we hope that no. Office would be close but I think what is going to be shot down is he climate change programs which should be devastating to the American people and to the entire world this is a real problem this is is happening now and we see the severity of the hurricanes being exacerbated by climate change. You guys are in particular. The location regional office and Houston I think that was surprising to a lot of folks never held that considering the hurricanes and some of that. Stories of folks things here and about. Chemical sort of explode explosions or chemical plant possible leaks as some of the refineries that eat candy considering shattering an office there and you stinking time on it more about that office in particular and some of the general sort of concern some of you my however he expressed about response. Certain basic emergency response and having the hurricanes. Well these regional laboratories are extremely important because you need to get samples to a laboratory within a specified timeframe and you need to have stated the art equipment. We have national experts there in analytical technology. And they are able to analyze the water samples air samples and so on for example one of the big questions when that. Chemical plant caught fire was what exactly is. Coming off from that fire and we breeds it are we going to be contaminated are we going to be possibly. Subject to. Cancer at some point in the future that laboratory can give you cancer. And I think any anyone who isn't Catholic either of those storms. I was counting on the EPA to be better line of defense against what's in the water that's rising up at my house what's up smoke is it safe. Is it gonna be cleaned up the EPA is the agency every one Environmental Protection Agency is counting on him. And when you already have an agency that's cut to the bone. And then you propose further cuts. It could be the folks in the half and passed on today but it could be any American tomorrow every single one of us counseling agencies for that and there RD stretched thin and further cost second immune. There's a danger that the next time there's a spill or a disaster they just you know aren't able to respond and waited folks in the agency know they need to you know caught. I spoke just last week. There's not privy to senate they're working really closely with local officials they feel good about the work they've been doing some of that that modern that you're talking about. If you like that her. There they're not like there has been adequate and sort of employee response to its use these disasters I think ending the coordination around her eternal -- a lot better than around her and Harvey thumb and. I think that now I think agent learns must've really quickly in a couple. The challenges that there's a disconnect between not event thanks so few positions to the upper ranks in the regional levels in particular that having that connection to what's happening on the ground was having a headquarters and so. That connection was very very tied. Terry under les Jackson Gene McCarthy I think he's getting better than have to out of necessity my concern is that enough boots on the Ghana resources and deploying those communities. We can get a quick assessment of the chemical facilities after they were a little slow to getting to some of those facilities and there's been a lot of coverage of that. I'm and I think they're learning the lessons quickly but they realize they need bodies to do that you need physical people to go out. Do the testing many folks analyze that analyzes samples and I think that's for the ideology of likely to cut to the owners the reality like this to you first on response. Paula something challenge any real way in real time right now. So again you're watching ABC news digital we just finished a press top covering a press conference here about. Proposed cuts to Environmental Protection Agency at Ben in the headlines a lot here in Washington over the last. Few weeks as members of congress continue to debates. And then it'll they need to pass a budget soon if they wanted to anything Al. But I want to ask you really quickly before Iraq may and you were talking about hearing reports from inside the Environmental Protection Agency from employees. Saying it highlights. A sense that can do their job he said being told they couldn't release public information or enforced. Rules that they had written we obviously know that this administration is very. Very interesting publicly interest and rolling back rules are put in place under the about administration so why did some of this. Surprise you or or concern you and what is your message to meet in place. Well who. Then a lot of this has been reported in the news whether it's rolling back of a whole bunch of air and water pollution safeguards. Whether it's folks. Leaving the agency in and sharing that they were told. To not in force regulations award to knock your public information was requested. Those those are very alarming for a couple reasons one because. It jeopardizes the health and safety of Americans but to because it has its chilling effect on folks who remain in the agency might be afraid to do their jobs for fear they might go. And every American's health and safety is on the line here we need an EPA. That is emboldened and supported and resolute we don't need an EPA. Bullied and intimidated and asked to cut corners and so my message to folks that are doing that essential work of public service of protecting and waters please keep doing your work. The Sierra Club has your back the entire environmental community has are back but more importantly. The American people have your back the American people about the Environmental Protection Agency. All of us who are parents all of us who breathing air and drink water cannon and so please please hang in there we have your back and there'll can seem to be a lot of budget negotiations going on in this town in the coming weeks I don't even watching it and ABC news digital I'm Mary Alice parks. We're joined by kinda oh Mara with the National Wildlife Federation John O'Grady who represented thousands of EPA employees. And Mary and hit with the Sierra cloud thank you for watching continue to watch. All of our coverage of budget negotiations and and backed him on policy and everything else that he ever we are busy out of the Washington DC bureau as you now. Thanks matched.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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