Cutbacks, Policy Shifts Pummel Morale at EPA Office in SF

Lynda Deschambault knew her career at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency had taken a hard turn in July when, she said, her supervisor told her during a performance review to “be as invisible as possible.” The next month, she took early retirement.

The request, she said, was jarring for a woman who had spent two decades enforcing pollution laws and the cleanup of toxic lands for the EPA’s Pacific Southwest region, based in San Francisco. Managing Superfund sites is not a position that lends itself to blending in.

“I’ve been through other administrations before, and we were always told to tighten our bootstraps and get to work. This was saying, ‘Well, don’t do your job,’” said Deschambault, who was the remediation manager at Leviathan Mine, an abandoned sulfur pit in Alpine County. “It was very surreal. I had never seen this before.”

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