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In many ways, the Environmental Protection Agency was exactly what I expected when I arrived as a summer intern in June: cubicles decorated with pictures of polar bears, employees who made actual small talk about the environment, acronyms for everything. But there were clues that this was an agency under siege in the Trump administration, and before my time there had ended, I saw them firsthand.

Just under the surface, fear and loathing had taken hold. My colleagues lowered their voices to discuss political matters, but they talked openly about “before” and “after,” referring to the inauguration. Some seemed to put on a mask at work, clenching their teeth and smiling every time the new administration came up in conversation. One man told me he’d worked at the EPA during many administrations and had never felt so discouraged. No wonder more than 700 people, including more than 200 scientists, have left since President Trump took office.

Perspective | As an EPA intern, I was barred from mentioning climate change

I helped manage the social media accounts — and saw firsthand why the staff is demoralized.


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