President Trump is seeking to slash the number of workers at the Environmental Protection Agency by at least half, leaving it significantly gutted as the administration mulls further cuts, the former head of Trump's EPA transition team said Friday.

"Let's aim for half and see how it works out, and then maybe we'll want to go further," Myron Ebell said now that he has returned to his position as director of the Center for Energy and Environment at the Competitive Enterprise Institute. Ebell left the Trump transition team a week ago.

Ebell told the Associated Press that Trump is likely to seek significant reductions in the agency's 15,000-person work force. Slashing half of the work force would leave 7,500 at the agency, which would dramatically reduce its capacity to move out regulations quickly.

Other reports say Ebell advised the Trump administration to make the staffing level to be on par with that 45 years ago when the EPA was started during the administration of former Republican President Richard Nixon. That would mean as few as 5,000 employees would remain.

"President Trump said during the campaign that he would like to abolish the EPA, or 'leave a little bit,'" Ebell said. "I think the administration is likely to start proposing cuts to the 15,000 staff, because the fact is that a huge amount of the work of the EPA is actually done by state agencies. It's not clear why so many employees are needed at the federal level."