EPA head threatens to move offices out of NYC amid ongoing protests

NEW YORK (1010 WINS) -- The Environmental Protection Agency will move its regional headquarters out of Manhattan if Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo can’t “demonstrate that EPA employees will be safe” working there amid ongoing protests nearby, the head of the agency said Tuesday. 

Demonstrators who took part in “Occupy City Hall” protests near the EPA’s regional headquarters at 290 Broadway in July defaced the facade of the building and sent a “projectile” through its street-level glass, EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler wrote in a letter to Cuomo and de Blasio dated Tuesday. 

Anti-U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement protesters, meanwhile, “engaged in unwarranted, violent activity” at the Jacob K. Javits Federal Building — which is next to 290 Broadway — on Sept. 16, “breaking windows and defacing/destroying government property,” Wheeler wrote. 

“Throughout these incidents, (the Federal Protective Service) has engaged the EPA and other tenants to keep us informed of potential threats,” he wrote. “However, maintaining law and order in New York City is not their responsibility; it is yours.” 

“Public safety is a core mission of state and local governments, and your failure to fulfill that mission is putting EPA employees at risk,” he added. “If you cannot demonstrate that EPA employees will be safe accessing our New York City offices, then I will begin the process of looking for a new location for our regional headquarters outside of New York City that can maintain order.” 

While some EPA employees are working remotely, others have had to work from the Manhattan office “as part of emergency response efforts and for other reasons,” Wheeler noted. 

De Blasio’s deputy press secretary Julia Arredondo on Tuesday called Wheeler's letter “nothing more than the latest political stunt from the Trump Administration.” 

“We know Administrator Wheeler doesn’t understand climate or the environment, just look at his record at the EPA so far, but we did think he could tell time,” she said in a statement. “Why he is writing us letters about events from two months ago defies comprehension, but then again, so does most of the Trump Administration’s actions.”

Cuomo senior advisor Rich Azzopardi, meanwhile, said his office received a copy of the letter from the EPA that was “encrypted and unreadable.”

“Another day, another transparent political game from this federal government,” Azzopardi said in a statement. “The fact is the EPA has abandoned every state since 2017 and they should quit playing political flunky and actually do their job.”