EPA targets 400 hires for climate, infrastructure laws in 2024

By Kevin Bogardus | 02/07/2024 04:21 PM EST

The agency is drumming up recruits to help grapple with its growing workload.

Janet McCabe.

Janet McCabe, EPA deputy administrator, pictured on Capitol Hill on March 3, 2021, is drumming up support for the agency's recruiting drive. Francis Chung/POLITICO's E&E News

EPA is pushing to hire for hundreds of job openings this year as the agency strives to fulfill its expanded mandate under President Joe Biden’s trademark climate and infrastructure laws.

The latest recruitment drive follows a successful hiring surge at the agency last year as historic funding arrive from the bipartisan infrastructure law and the Inflation Reduction Act. EPA’s work is only getting started, and it needs the staff to keep up as the Biden administration races to distribute billions of taxpayer dollars to disadvantaged communities and draft far-reaching regulations on air, climate and water.

The agency’s top leaders are visibly involved in the hiring effort. They have asked employees to encourage their friends to apply and have mounted a public campaign to drum up recruits for EPA.


“As successful as we have been in hiring so many new colleagues, we have nearly 400 [bipartisan infrastructure law] and IRA positions to recruit for this year,” Deputy Administrator Janet McCabe told EPA employees in an internal email obtained by E&E News. “These positions are in addition to the hundreds of other vacancy announcements for critical jobs across the agency.”

In her email sent Tuesday, the deputy administrator also touted an upcoming special event — a hiring webinar — to help individuals apply to EPA. McCabe said the event was open to anyone interested in a career with the agency.

“So, if anyone in your life has thought about starting their career here, please consider extending this invitation to them,” McCabe said.

Almost 1,900 people tuned into EPA’s hiring webinar held Wednesday afternoon. Attendees heard from EPA staff and interns and were given guidance on how to use USAJobs.gov, the federal government’s online jobs portal.

The agency also showed its latest recruitment video, starring Administrator Michael Regan, as well as a message from McCabe.

Over the past year, EPA has hired more people than in each of the past five years, McCabe said at the webinar. Further, in 2024, the agency is doubling the number of its available internships and is planning to hire hundreds of new employees.

“This is EPA’s moment — and this is your moment — to show the world what we as an agency can do to make people’s lives better, safer and healthier,” McCabe said. “Today, my biggest, most important message to you is that there is a career for you here at EPA.”

Wednesday’s webinar followed a press briefing Regan gave Monday to discuss students and recent graduates choosing a career with EPA. The administrator, the first Black man and first graduate of a historically Black college or university to lead EPA, talked with college newspaper journalists about the agency’s drive to expand its workforce.

“We want to entice students as young as possible to participate in internships, in co-ops, in any kind of learning engagements, so they can better learn about EPA and position themselves to be competitive for careers here at this agency,” Regan said at the press briefing.

The agency has been on a hiring spree during the Biden administration. In 2023, EPA brought on 1,977 new employees, surpassing its own hiring goal.

The agency has had recent increases to its core budget, but the additional funding of over $100 billion it is receiving from the climate and infrastructure laws combined is unprecedented. Consequentially, that cash has scaled up its workload considerably, requiring more staff to come on board.

EPA’s recruiting push, however, may be slowed in the months ahead. Appropriators on Capitol Hill are expected to lower funding for the spending bill that funds EPA and other agencies, although steep budget cuts proposed by House Republicans are no longer under consideration.