BREAKING NEWS Massive crowd gathers for protest march Full Story
STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

EPA official on why she was ousted: 'Maybe saving children doesn't matter anymore'

The Environmental Protection Agency children's health director who was recently placed on leave says she is ...

Posted: Oct 17, 2018 1:02 PM
Updated: Oct 17, 2018 1:02 PM

The Environmental Protection Agency children's health director who was recently placed on leave says she is concerned that to agency leadership, "maybe saving children doesn't matter anymore."

Dr. Ruth Etzel, a pediatrician whose three decades of work in children's health includes three years leading the EPA's Office of Children's Health Protection, said she was placed on leave with little explanation in late September.

Children

Children's health

Demographic groups

Environment and natural resources

Environmental Protection Agency

Environmental regulation and policy

Families and children

Family members and relatives

Government organizations - US

Health and health care (by demographic group)

Health and medical

Maternal and child health

Population and demographics

Society

US federal departments and agencies

US government independent agencies

"My job is kind of like being the chief lifeguard. I'm looking out for possible hazards to children and trying to prevent them," she told CNN's Jake Tapper on "Erin Burnett OutFront." "And if they don't want the chief lifeguard around, what does that mean for children?"

Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said Etzel "was suspended while we investigate some allegations," but declined to comment further about the nature of the charges.

He also said the "important work" of the children's health office will continue, and an acting director is currently overseeing the staff.

"I appreciate the dedication of the employees of that office who have been performing outstandingly," Wheeler said at an event focused on children's health earlier this month.

Shortly after being told of her suspension, Etzel described in an email to colleagues months of "guerrilla warfare." She was "was required to turn in my EPA badge, computer, keys, and cell phone" and is "not allowed to perform any official EPA duties."

Etzel said in the CNN interview she suspected -- but had no evidence -- that she was sidelined to stymie progress on a major lead poisoning report that was nearing completion.

"I have a hard time knowing because what they continue to tell me is that lead poisoning is very important, but ... if you watch their actions and not just listen to their words, you find out they're not walking the walk that they would be walking if they really wanted to eliminate childhood lead poisoning," she said.

Etzel said that generally, the administration has not made environmental protection "a high priority."

"This administration doesn't seem to adhere to the EPA mission which has always been to protect both human health and the environment," she said.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 4185

Reported Deaths: 153
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Multnomah114259
Marion94925
Washington73417
Clackamas30611
Deschutes1240
Umatilla1163
Linn1159
Polk9812
Lane693
Yamhill697
Jackson650
Benton555
Clatsop450
Klamath440
Malheur320
Coos310
Jefferson300
Douglas270
Wasco231
Josephine231
Hood River160
Columbia160
Lincoln120
Morrow110
Curry70
Union60
Tillamook60
Crook60
Wallowa20
Lake20
Sherman10
Harney10
Grant10
Baker10
Unassigned00
Eugene
Broken Clouds
64° wxIcon
Hi: 66° Lo: 44°
Feels Like: 64°
Corvallis
Few Clouds
65° wxIcon
Hi: 67° Lo: 45°
Feels Like: 65°
Roseburg
Few Clouds
68° wxIcon
Hi: 71° Lo: 48°
Feels Like: 68°
North Bend
Clear
57° wxIcon
Hi: 61° Lo: 47°
Feels Like: 57°
KEZI Radar
KEZI Temperatures
KEZI Planner

LATEST FORECAST

Community Events