Donald Trump could sack many of the climate change staff at the Environmental Protection Agency and cut large parts of its funding, according to an official.
Myron Ebell, who led Mr Trump's transition team at the agency, said that he expects the new President to sack at least half of the staff there. He also hopes that the organisation will have its budget cut significantly, he said.
The Environmental Protection Agency works in part to minimise climate change and its effect on the American climate. That includes conducting and publicising research into global warming – research that will now have to be approved by the government and which may be deleted entirely from the website.
Mr Ebell said that he wouldn't speculate on exact numbers of staff who might be sacked. But he said that he personally would start by sacking at least half of them.
"Let's aim for half and see how it works out, and then maybe we'll want to go further," said Ebell, who has returned to his position as director of the Center for Energy and Environment at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.
The conservative think tank in Washington opposes "global-warming alarmism" and receives a portion of its funding from corporations and individuals that profit from the continued burning of fossil fuels. Ebell has long been a vocal critic of federal environmental regulations, which he claims are strangling the nation's economy and impeding job growth.
Though he kept specific recommendations he made to the White House confidential, Ebell suggested it was reasonable to expect the president to seek a cut of about $1 billion from the EPA's roughly $8 billion annual budget.
About half the EPA's budget passes through to state and local governments for infrastructure projects and environmental cleanup efforts that Ebell said Trump supports. He said the cuts would likely fall on the remaining half the agency's budget, which pays for agency operations and environmental enforcement.
"President Trump said during the campaign that he would like to abolish the EPA, or 'leave a little bit,"' Ebell said. "I think the administration is likely to start proposing cuts to the 15,000 staff, because the fact is that a huge amount of the work of the EPA is actually done by state agencies. It's not clear why so many employees are needed at the federal level."
Additional reporting by Associated Press
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