Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The EPA: a wretched hive of scum and villainy?

Maybe that's a little harsh. Maybe. Or maybe it's not harsh enough. Let's look at some of the facts.

Just recently, EPA front man for Global Warming and imaginary secret agent John C. Beale returned to the news cycle, as he is due to be sentenced today for stealing some $900,000 of taxpayer funds over the course of several years. Beale had woven a grandiose tale wherein he was supposedly performing clandestine work for the CIA and using his EPA position as cover (methinks he watched Confessions of a Dangerous Mind a few times too many). He flew all over the world--first class, of course--and stayed at five-star hotels when he was supposed to be doing work for the EPA. And if he wasn't out of town, he pretended to be and spent days at a time relaxing at home while e-mailing greetings to his colleagues from far away places like Pakistan. His fraud was so great that there was a period of at least a year and half where Beale admits that he did "absolutely no work."

The EPA's Office of the Inspector General opened an investigation into Beale in February and the lead investigator, Assistant Inspector General Patrick Sullivan, began to quickly and easily uncover the fraud perpetrated by Beale. The current head of the EPA, Gina McCarthy, is desperately trying to get credit for the takedown of Beale, with her press secretary noting that the fraud was "uncovered" by McCarthy first. That's a hoot. For Beale was reporting directly to McCarthy--when she was the EPA's Assistant Administrator--throughout the period when he perpetrated his fraud.

Understand that what we're talking about here is a Federal agency with a budget. Beale worked for the EPA, that's who paid him. Yet he took trips supposedly in service to the CIA, trips that were funded in full (even when they didn't happen) by the EPA. Someone had to sign off on this and that someone was McCarthy. Frankly, this just isn't done without some inter-agency meetings and massive amounts of paperwork. Indeed, we now know that as early as 2010, red flags were going up in the EPA's HR department, red flags that McCarthy obviously ignored. Maybe she was taken in by Beale's lies, maybe she's just naive, but either way she's incompetent at the very least. Yet she now sits at the head of the EPA.

But then again, look who she replaced: Lisa Jackson, or should I say "Richard Windsor"? Remember that story? Ms. Jackson had established a secondary e-mail account under the above name in order to communicate with certain other EPA colleagues. Such a move was strictly a no-no, according to government regulations. Amazingly, her alias actually won an ethics award at the EPA, an event eerily reminiscent of the Captain Tuttle storyline from M*A*S*H. And as an Obama appointee, Ms. Jackson kinda blew the whole "most transparent Administration in history" tagline out of the water. She ultimately resigned as the above investigation started to gain traction, but claimed it was for unrelated reasons. Yeah, sure.

Then there was the case of former EPA Administrator for Region VI (the sough central region), Al Armendariz. A video surfaced in 2012 of him explaining how it was EPA policy to make an example of some companies by "crucifying" them, in an Ancient Rome sense:
EPA’s “philosophy of enforcement,” said EPA’s Region VI Administrator Al Armendariz, is “kind of like how the Romans used to conquer little villages in the Mediterranean: they’d go into little Turkish towns somewhere, they’d find the first five guys they’d run into, and they’d crucify them.”  
“That town was really easy to manage for the next few years,” Armendariz added.
In other words--according to Mr. Armendariz--the EPA wasn't concerned about being fair or just, in the least. Unsurprisingly, he resigned as well shortly after this story went public. And of course, he was also an Obama appointee.

Beyond all of this, the EPA--under the watch of Ms. Jackson--released tons of personal information about various farmers to environmentalist groups. Then there is the case of the EPA targeting conservative groups, ala the IRS, by charging such groups fees that were--more often than not--waived for liberal groups:
In a review of letters granting or denying fee waivers granted at the “initial determination” stage from January 2012 to this Spring, Horner found green groups, such as the Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility and EarthJustice, had their fees waived in 75 out of 82 cases. Meanwhile, EPA effectively or expressly denied Horner’s request for fee waivers in 14 of 15 FOIA requests over this same time.

Moreover, every denial Horner appealed was overturned. “That these denials are ritually overturned on appeal, not after I presented any new evidence or made any new point, but simply restated what was a detailed and heavily sourced legal document to begin with, reaffirms the illegitimacy of these hurdles EPA places in the way of those who cause it problems.” Horner said. “EPA’s practice is to take care of its friends and impose ridiculous obstacles to deny problematic parties’ requests for information.”

The numbers for a sampling of comparable “national” groups are mind-boggling. Of Sierra Club’s 15 requests, EPA granted 11. And Sierra Club received the harshest of treatments. In fact, EPA granted 19 of NRDC’s 20 requests and 17 of EarthJustice’s 19 requests. Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility went a perfect 17-for-17. The Waterkeeper Alliance had all three of its requests granted, Greenpeace and the Southern Environmental Law Center each were 2-for-2, the Center for Biological Diversity 4-for-4. 
 
That is, these green pressure groups encountered a cooperative EPA 92 percent of the time, but Horner’s requests on behalf of CEI and the American Tradition Institute were rejected more than 93 percent of the time.
To sum up, what we have here in the EPA are people not doing there jobs and bilking taxpayers out of serious money, a total lack of oversight by the people in charge, a culture of secrecy, and a wholly ideologically-based approach to the implementation of policy. It really doesn't matter who is in charge of the EPA, it would appear, because there's simply no real accounting of responsibility taking place. Those caught misbehaving step aside, only to be replaced by people prepared to do nothing differently. It is an agency out of control, essentially running amok, one that has also been granted more and more authority under the current Administration. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Cheers, all.

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