Category Archives: Environmental Protection Agency

Eye on the Environmental Protection Agency (@EPA): Less Than Thorough – Flaws in Recent EPA Office of Inspector General Investigations: OIG Ignores Leads on EPA’s Email Follies


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the Committee has learned that at least these individuals were using private email accounts: …

M. Allyn Brooks-LaSure, Deputy Associate Administrator for Public Affairs

David Cohen, Spokesman

Michelle DePass, Assistant Administrator for International and Tribal Affairs

Larry Elworth, former Chief Agricultural Advisor

Brendan Gilfillan, Deputy Press Secretary

Robert Goulding, former Director of Operations

Michael Moats, former Chief Speechwriter

Seth Oster, former Associate Administrator for the Office of External Affairs and Environmental Education

Bob Perciasepe, Deputy Administrator

Mathy Stanislaus, Assistant Administrator for the Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response

Bob Sussman, former Senior Policy Council

Diane Thompson, former Chief of Staff

Tseming Yang, former Deputy General Counsel

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Eye on the EPA:

Less Than Thorough – Flaws in Recent EPA OIG Investigations:

OIG Ignores Leads on EPA’s Email Follies
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Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, Minority (Feb. 13, 2014)

February 13, 2014
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https://www.epw.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/in-the-news?ID=EC843238-F828-3B52-A330-8859DE6BD9CE
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Exposed examples of EPA officials using private accounts

Lisa Jackson, EPA Administrator’s false-identity email account in the name of “Richard Windsor”

(see CEI v. EPA, D.D.C., 12-cv-1617)

Judith Enck, EPA Region 2 Administrator’s AOL account

(EPA-R2-2014-001585)

James Martin, former EPA Region 8 Administrator’s ME.com account

(see Competitive Enterprise Institute v. EPA, D.D.C., 12-cv-1497

(FOIA 08-FOI-00203-12)

(see also FOIA EPA FOIA-R8-2014-000358))

Jared Blumenfeld, EPA Region 9 Administrator’s Comcast.net account

(see CEI v. EPA, D.D.C. 13-cv-627

(voluntarily dismissed on EPA’s promise of producing responsive records, under

(FOIA EPA-R9-2013-007631))

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Eye on the EPA:

Less Than Thorough – Flaws in Recent EPA OIG Investigations:

OIG Ignores Leads on EPA’s Email Follies

Thursday, February 13, 2014

The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was designed to be independent of political influence while investigating and preventing waste, fraud, and abuse at the Agency

Recent reports coming from the OIG have raised concerns from the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW) Republicans due to a lack of transparency and potential bias when crafting and researching their reports

Below are three examples showing how the OIG has failed to impartially investigate the Agency and has simply rubberstamped EPA’s controversial practices

EPW Republicans believe it is time for Congress to have more scrutiny over what is going on in the OIG’s office at EPA

OIG Ignores Hydraulic Fracturing Facts and Gives EPA Expanded Authority

In 2010, EPA Region 6 issued an Emergency Administrative Order (EAO), aimed at shutting down natural gas production wells belonging to Range Resources, an oil and gas company operating in Parker County, Texas to further justify onerous federal regulations on hydraulic fracturing

Amidst an ongoing State investigation EPA interceded formally claiming that it had determined that the company’s drilling for natural gas had

caused or contributed to the contamination of at least two residential drinking water wells.”[1]
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[1] Press Release, Envtl. Prot. Agency, EPA Issues an Imminent and Substantial Endangerment Order to Protect Drinking Water in Southern Parker County (Dec. 7, 2010)
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http://yosemite.epa.gov/opa/admpress.nsf/ab2d81eb088f4a7e85257359003f5339/713f73b4
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The evidence behind the EAO was both flawed and manipulated, having been highly criticized and disputed by State officials, Members of Congress, and a wide range of stakeholders

EPA’s very issuance of the EAO was an unnecessary usurpation of traditional state authority and an attempt to manufacture a smoking gun against hydraulic fracturing

The OIG’s report on EPA’s actions against Range Resources was published a year and a half after the initial request

The OIG failed to hold EPA accountable for a multitude of inappropriate and unjustified actions in issuing the EAO

The report entirely ignored EPA’s political dealings and collusion with far-left environmental groups, and disregarded EPA’s manipulation of facts and science to justify the issuance of the EAO in the first place

In fact, the OIG report went as far as to commend EPA for properly conforming to agency guidelines by exercising what the OIG interpreted as their limitless authority under the SDWA, stating,

for the EPA to take and enforce a Section 1431 emergency order, it needs neither proof that contamination has already occurred nor proof that the recipient of the order is responsible for the contamination.”[2]
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[2] Office of Inspector Gen., Envtl, Prot. Agency, Report No. 14-P-0044 Response to Congressional Inquiry Regarding the EPA’s Emergency Order to the Range Resources Gas Drilling Company (Dec. 20, 2013)
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http://www.epa.gov/oig/reports/2014/20131220-14-P-0044.pdf
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The OIG report was the result of a Congressional request from all six Republican Senators from Region 6 to look into the actions of the EPA region

The request letter’s questions were carefully crafted with extensive negotiations with and edits made by the OIG – questions which the OIG subsequently chose largely to ignore

It has set a dangerous precedent in giving EPA carte blanche authority to issue EAOsno proof necessary – to suspend the operations of any company or individual and forcing them to incur unlimited costs in taking actions deemed necessary by EPA

On Friday, February 7, 2014, the OIG announced a plan to conduct a review on EPA’s and States’ ability to manage potential threats to water resources from hydraulic fracturing.”]3]
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[3] Memorandum from Dan Engelberg, Dir., Water Issues, Office of Program Evaluation, Office of Inspector Gen., Envtl. Prot. Agency, to Nancy Stoner, Acting Assistant Adm’r for Water, Envtl. Prot. Agency (Feb. 5, 2014)
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http://www.epa.gov/oig/reports/notificationMemos/newStarts_02-05-14_HyraulicFracturing.pdf
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Despite the OIG’s inability to carry out their own stated mission of conducting

independent oversight of the programs and operations of the Environmental Protection Agency

in order to

prevent and detect fraud, waste, and abuse,”

they have seemingly taken on a new investigation that is both outside the scope of their authorities as well as their expertise.[4]
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[4] See Office of Inspector Gen., Envtl. Prot. Agency, About OIG
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http://www.epa.gov/oig/about.html
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The OIG is greatly outstepping its bounds in reviewing States’ regulatory policies for what one can only glean is to further justify EPA’s political agenda aimed at federal control of hydraulic fracturing despite any legitimate need to do so

OIG Ignores Leads on EPA’s Email Follies

In 2013, several Congressional Committees, including the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW) had expressed serious concerns that the actions of several high ranking EPA officials may have violated transparency statutes,[5] namely the Federal Records Act (FRA) and the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), by using personal and alias email accounts to conduct agency business
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[5] Minority Office, S. Comm. on Evt’l and Pub. Works, A Call for Sunshine: EPA’s FOIA and Fed. Records Failures Uncovered 9-15 (Sept. 9, 2013)
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Both statutes were put in place to help ordinary Americans keep tabs on their government, but require the cooperation and diligence of the Administrative Branch to ensure that responsive records are captured and preserved

Prompted by the discovery that EPA officials had violated the Agency’s internal email protocol,[6] the EPA OIG released a report entitled,

Congressionally Requested Inquiry into the EPA’s Use of Private and Alias Email Accounts

on September 26, 2013.[7]
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[7] Office of Inspector Gen., Envtl. Prot. Agency, Report No. 13-P-0433, Congressionally Requested Inquiry into the EPA’s Use of Private and Alias Email Accounts (Sept. 26, 2013)
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According to the report, the OIG

found no evidence that the EPA used, promoted or encouraged the use of private ‘non-governmental’ email accounts to circumvent records management.”[8]
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[8] Office of Inspector Gen., Envtl. Prot. Agency, Report No. 13-P-0433, Congressionally Requested Inquiry into the EPA’s Use of Private and Alias Email Accounts: At a Glance (Sept. 26, 2013)
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http://www.epa.gov/oig/reports/2013/20130926-13-P-0433_glance.pdf
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Since that finding the Committee has learned that at least these individuals were using private email accounts:
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• Lisa Jackson, former Administrator
• Bob Perciasepe, Deputy Administrator
• Jared Blumenfeld, Region 9 Administrator
• James Martin, former Region 8 Administrator
• Judith Enck, Region 2 Administrator
• Michelle DePass, Assistant Administrator for International and Tribal Affairs
• Mathy Stanislaus, Assistant Administrator for the Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response
• M. Allyn Brooks-Lasure, Deputy Associate Administrator for Public Affairs
• Brendan Gilfillan, Deputy Press Secretary
• Bob Sussman, former Senior Policy Counsel
• David Cohen, Spokesman
• Robert Goulding, former Director of Operations
• Michael Moats, former Chief Speechwriter
• Seth Oster, former Associate Administrator of the Office of External Affairs and Environmental Education
• Larry Elworth, former Chief Agricultural Advisor
• Tseming Yang, former Deputy General Counsel
• Diane Thompson, former Chief of Staff
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A number of factors lead to the OIG’s faulty conclusion

In the course of writing the report, OIG relied solely on interviews of EPA officials willing to cooperate, and never examined in any way, actual staff emails.[9]
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[9] Minority Office, S. Comm. on Evt’l and Pub. Works, A Call for Sunshine: EPA’s FOIA and Fed. Records Failures Uncovered 12-14 (Sept. 9, 2013); Briefing for Staff of S. Comm. on Env’t and Pub. Works (Jan. 24, 2014)
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Additionally, according to the OIG, they have no authority to review the use of private email accounts for agency business beyond asking the employee if they have ever improperly used a private email account,[10] and did not follow-up or fact-check
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[10] Briefing for Staff of S. Comm. on Env’t and Pub. Works (Jan. 24, 2014)
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Moreover, investigators never spoke to former EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson or former General Counsel Scott Fulton, two senior level officials who played central roles in the controversy,[11] nor did the OIG examine or compare the practice of using alias accounts by Administrator Jackson and past Administrators
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[11] E-mail from [Michael Goode, Project Manager, Office of Audit, Office of Inspector Gen. Envt’l Prot. Agency, to Lisa Jackson, Former Adm’r, Envt’l Prot. Agency (May 2, 2013 03:06 PM); E-mail from Michael Goode, Project Manager, Office of Audit, Office of Inspector Gen. Envt’l Prot. Agency, to Scott Fulton, Former Gen. Counsel, Envt’l Prot. Agency (May 2, 2013 03:01 PM); Briefing for Staff of S. Comm. on Env’t and Pub. Works (Jan. 24, 2014)
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The OIG also did not review the emails showing that EPA officials were inappropriately using their email accounts that were produced in response to multiple FOIA requests

In September 2013, EPW Republicans released a report entitled:

A Call for Sunshine: EPA’s FOIA and Federal Records Failures Uncovered,”

which provides a detailed accounting of EPA’s inappropriate email practices

Additionally, the Committee has confirmed that Region 9 Administrator Jared Blumenfeld used his private email account to conduct agency business, although during his interview with the IG, he lied and said that he had not.[1]
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[1] Minority Office, S. Comm. on Evt’l and Pub. Works, A Call for Sunshine: EPA’s FOIA and Fed. Records Failures Uncovered 9-15 (Sept. 9, 2013) (citing letter from Jared Blumenfeld, Reg’l Adm’r, U.S. Envt’l Prot. Agency Region 9, to Hon. David Vitter Ranking Member S. Comm. on Env’t and Pub. Works (Sept. 6, 2013))
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It does not appear that Blumenfeld has been held accountable by the Agency for lying to the IG

OIG Turns Blind Eye to Crony Clean Air Advisors

In 2011, former EPW Ranking Member Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla.) asked the EPA OIG to evaluate EPA’s management of the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC), the Advisory Council on Clean Air Compliance Analysis (Council), and the peer review process in order to address concerns of a lack of impartiality, failure to balance perspectives, failure to rotate members, and financial conflicts of interest.[12]
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[12]
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https://www.epw.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/press-releases-all?ID=503cd8ab-802a-23ad-45e8-1d8528fa6847
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In 2013, the OIG concluded its audit and released the report entitled,

EPA Can Better Document Resolution of Ethics and Partiality Concerns in Managing Clean Air Federal Advisory Committees.[13]
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[13]
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13-P-0387

9/11/2013
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http://www.epa.gov/oig/reports/2013/20130911-13-P-0387.pdf
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During the course of the audit, OIG reviewed only 37% of the CASAC and Council member files from 1998 to 2012, reviewing only 18% “in depth,” without disclosing their selection process

They also admitted that they relied solely on members’ financial disclosure forms to assess impartiality concerns and did not attempt to conduct any independent research, including search engines (Lexis, Google, etc.)

Even though 72% of CASAC and Council members from 2006 to the present have received EPA and related multi-agency research grants

OIG stated that members with research grants did not present a conflict of interest, and did not follow up on that line of inquiry

Additionally, the OIG used a narrow scope to examine the membership balance, ignoring whether panels were balanced based on consideration of individual members’ independence or impartiality concerns, viewpoints, receipt of research grants, or membership tenure
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Unfortunately, the report refrained from making specific recommendations to address concerns of impartiality, potential conflicts of interest, and membership balance, missing the opportunity to reform EPA’s policies for the scientific community responsible for providing advice on some of the Agency’s most aggressive regulations

In the case of addressing EPA procedures for when financial conflict of interest disclosures were blatantly violated, OIG recommended that EPA instruct employees of the proper procedures and nothing more

OIG kept their recommendations broad and to a minimum, including one that EPA could better document the membership selection process

While EPA’s current process is not fully transparent, nor does it provide assurance of neutrality, OIG failed to specify what EPA could do to address these weaknesses

Additional Concerns with OIG

On August 27, 2013, Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) requested the OIG

immediately launch an investigation of the Agency’s policies and processes that facilitated John Beale’s fraud, and to make recommendations to ensure that this does not happen again.”[14]
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[14] Letter from the Hon. David Vitter, Ranking Member, Senate Env. and Public Wks Com., to the Hon. Arthur Elkins, Inspector Gen., Envtl. Prot. Agency (Aug. 27, 2013)
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During the course of this investigation, the OIG changed its protocol in executing their responsibilities to Congress

OIG protocol dictate that in a response to a Congressional request, the report or work product is produced to the requestor before it is available to the public

However, the OIG cancelled their requested briefing with EPW Republican staff right before their reports on Beale would be released to the public, thus abandoning its protocols

In a January 14, 2014, letter the current EPA IG, Arthur Elkins, has since confirmed that his office’s actions were problematic and stated,

In light of the OIGs obligations under the IG Act to be open and transparent – and given the issues raised by recent reports – the OIG is revisiting practicality and fairness issues as they relate to the sequence currently dictated by our protocol

Should we decide to appeal or revise that protocol, we will publicaly [sic – publicly] announce the change.”[15]
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[15] Letter from Arthur Elkins, Inspector Gen., Envtl. Prot. Agency, to Hon. David Vitter, Ranking Member, S. Comm. on Envt. and Pub. Works (Jan. 27, 2014)
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Click here to read Sen. Vitter’s letter to his colleagues on the EPA OIG protocol change

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Environmental Protection Agency (@EPA) Acting Administrator Bob Perciasepe (@BobPerch) letter from a group of Senators, the EPA “released farm information for 80,000 livestock facilities in 30 states as the result of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request from national environmental organizations. It is our understanding that the initial release of data contained personal information that was not required by the FOIA request for ten states including Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio and Utah. This release included names and personal addresses”

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Senators Call Out the EPA for Leaking Private Info of Farmers to Radical Environmental Groups
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Townhall.com (@Townhallcom)

Katie Pavlich (@KatiePavlich)

June 7, 2013
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http://townhall.com/tipsheet/katiepavlich/2013/06/07/why-is-the-epa-leaking-private-farm-info-to-radical-environmental-groups-n1615456
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Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) CORRUPT administrator Lisa Perez Jackson received an ethics award using her alias “Richard Windsor”: “scholar of ethical behavior” (appointed by CORRUPT Barack Obama @BarackObama Barack Hussein Obama)

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Newly Released Emails Show EPA Director’s Extensive Use of Fictional Alter Ego
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Washington Times (@WashTimes)

Stephen Dinan (@StephenDinan)

June 2, 2013
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http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/jun/2/newly-released-emails-show-epa-directors-extensive/?utm_source=feedly
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image
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E&E Legal FOIA Collusion Report
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Sep 12, 2014

identity email account in the name of “Richard Windsor”

(see CEI v. EPA, D.D.C. 12-cv-1617)

315 pgs.
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https://eelegal.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/EE-Legal-FOIA-Collusion-Report-9-15-2014.pdf
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image
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Part K of Second Release of HQ-FOI-01268-12 (PDF) – US EPA
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307 pgs.
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https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2014-01/documents/part-j-hq-foi-01268-12-releaseredact-wattachments-production-2.pdf
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Part W of Fourth Release (04-15-13) HQ-FOI-01268-12 (PDF) – EPA
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414 pgs.
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https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2014-01/documents/release-4-part-w.pdf
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Environmental Protection Agency (@EPA) CORRUPT administrator Lisa Jackson created an email alias named “Richard Windsor” (12,000 + emails)

image
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E-mail Scandal at the EPA
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National Review Online (@NRO)

John Fund (@JohnFund)

January 5, 2013
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http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/336995/e-mail-scandal-epa-john-fund
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CEI Files Suit over EPA’s Glacial “Richard Windsor” Production
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Chris Horner (@Chris_C_Horner)

March 12, 2015
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http://www.globalwarming.org/2015/03/12/cei-files-suit-over-epas-glacial-richard-windsor-production/
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Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): Carol Browner’s EPA ruling letter to the city of San Diego, ordering them to stop treating the sewage pouring into the Tijuana River Valley on the grounds that human actions were disturbing the “sewage-based ecology” of the affected estuary—ignoring the fact that the sewage posed a health threat to human beings (whose “ecology” obviously wasn’t considered as important by the EPA)

image
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The EPA:

The Worst of Many Rogue Federal Agencies
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Forbes (@Forbes)

Mark Hendrickson

Grove City College (@GroveCityCollege)

March 14, 2013
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http://www.forbes.com/sites/markhendrickson/2013/03/14/the-epa-the-worst-of-many-rogue-federal-agencies/
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Hendrickson’s View
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The St. Croix Review

Mark W. Hendrickson

Grove City College (@GroveCityCollege)

Wednesday, December 16, 2015 11:02
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http://www.stcroixreview.com/index.php/past-issues/item/679-hendrickson-s-view
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The EPA:

A Rogue Agency
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Mark Hendrickson

Grove City College (@GroveCityCollege)

Monday, May 9, 2016
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http://gccwebsites.com/hendrickson3/index.php/category/environmentalism/
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Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the leadership of Carol Browner, the Browner-led EPA also blatantly broke federal law by actively lobbying against legislation designed to curb some of EPA’s abuses. Browner herself defied a federal judge’s orders and oversaw the erasure of the hard drives and the destruction of backup email tapes that she had used as administrator (1990s); think Internal Revenue Service (Lois Lerner and IRS Commissioner John Koskinen). The EPA refused to divulge how it calculated cost-benefit analyses. Indeed, in 1997 Browner admitted that new research would be required to set a “scientifically defensible” standard for air-quality issues that would “fill obvious and critical voids in our knowledge”

image
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The EPA:

The Worst of Many Rogue Federal Agencies
………………………………………………..
Forbes (@Forbes)

Mark Hendrickson

Grove City College (@GroveCityCollege)

March 14, 2013
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http://www.forbes.com/sites/markhendrickson/2013/03/14/the-epa-the-worst-of-many-rogue-federal-agencies/
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Hendrickson’s View
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The St. Croix Review

Mark W. Hendrickson

Grove City College (@GroveCityCollege)

Wednesday, December 16, 2015 11:02
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http://www.stcroixreview.com/index.php/past-issues/item/679-hendrickson-s-view
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