The Environmental Protection Agency recently announced that it has formally ended its employee fitness benefits program.
According to E&E News, the EPA sent a letter to union leadership stating that the agency planned to drop funding for the program beginning July 31. The letter noted that the annual cost savings to the agency were approximately $900,000.
EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said in April that he intended to pull the plug on the program. The agency’s actions are the formal execution of that announcement.
An agency spokesperson confirmed the announcement was made about ending the program. Jahan Wilcox, a spokesperson for the EPA, told the Washington Free Beacon, “We have ended taxpayer-funded fitness centers at EPA; a program that was costing American taxpayers $900,000 per year. Disinvestment in using federal funds for EPA fitness centers will allow the agency to invest this money in core activities to protect the environment.”
E&E news also reported that federal employee unions were frustrated by the announcement and that at least one union said that it planned to bargain with the agency in an effort to retain some fitness benefits. Union leaders said they would examine the situation further after an upcoming briefing provides additional details about the decision.
The 2018 budget proposal put forth by the White House proposed a budget cut for the EPA of 31%.