Friends were off to Acadia National Park last month. Luckily they didn’t wait until now because the government shutdown has caused 800,000 federal employees to “take a break” and many of those work in the energy and environmental departments.
If you are a Google follower you know that they do creative things on their page. On October 1, 2013, they paid tribute to the 123rd birthday of Yosemite National Park, home to some of America’s most amazing and beautiful wonders like Yosemite Falls, Half Dome, and El Capitan. Having been there I can attest to how disappointing (an understatement) it is to be shut out of this National Park as well as all of them.
A short list of how the shutdown affects our green things:
1. Toxic Superfund sites and clean technical research divisions within the Department of Energy.
2. The National Park Service: “The United States is home to 401 national parks, everything from redwood forests in California to Civil War battlefields in Pennsylvania. Tourists vacationing in these parks and forests have been given 48 hours to vacate the premises. While roads that provide access to park features have been gated, roads that traverse parks will stay open. Twenty thousand of the NPS’ 23,000 employees have been furloughed, but essential law enforcement, maintenance, and fire personnel will be allowed to work.”
3. The National Weather Service: Weather forecasts will continue to be issued by meteorologists at the NWS “because they provide the nation with weather, water, and air quality forecasts and warnings to imminent threats,” according to a 2011 shutdown contingency plan of the Department of Commerce. The NWS is a division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, itself a division of the DOC. About 5,400 NOAA employees, or 45 percent of its workforce, were furloughed.
4. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission: Because of “carryover” funding, which is basically 2012 money that was not used up, the NRC will remain open for at least a week under normal business operations. But if the shutdown stretches past this point, the agency will have to furlough all but 300 of its 3,900 employees. Most of those who have stayed on are nuclear reactor inspectors and staff that respond to accidents. Living four miles from a nuclear power plant does not make this Examiner a happy camper.
5. The Fish and Wildlife Service: All 561 National Wildlife Refugees are now closed. Most of the FWS’ 7,000 employees have been sent home.
6. The Environmental Protection Agency: According to plans released last week, 94 percent of the EPA’s 16,205 employees have been furloughed.