Energy & Environment

The shadowy world of the Environmental Protection Agency

The shadowy world of the Environmental Protection Agency

No sooner does the White House release its latest fear-mongering climate-change report – a last desperate bid to terrorize the American people out of lobbing tough questions at the purveyors of politically useful junk science – then we discover the Environmental Protection Agency is a hotbed of corruption and secrecy.  It’s so secretive that not even the Office of Inspector General was able to get behind its closed doors, as reported by Fox News:

The EPA was accused Wednesday of tolerating waste, fraud and “criminal conduct” in its own ranks, as a House committee hearing aired allegations of employee misconduct that have cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The inspector general’s office — the official watchdog tasked with overseeing the agency — also claims it’s being blocked from doing its job by a unit within the EPA.

“I’m very concerned that vital information regarding suspected employee misconduct is being withheld from the OIG,” Patrick Sullivan, assistant inspector general, testified before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

“This is truly a broken agency,” committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., said, adding that the employee problems have gotten to the point of being “intolerable.”

How broken is the EPA?  Fox provides a few examples:

In one case, an employee was getting paid for one or two years after moving to a retirement home, where the employee allegedly did not work. When an investigation began, the worker was simply placed on sick leave.

In another case, an employee with multiple-sclerosis was allowed to work at home for the last 20 years. However, for the past five years, she allegedly produced no work — though she was paid roughly $600,000. She retired after an investigation.

In yet another case, an employee was accused of viewing pornography for two-to-six hours a day since 2010. An IG probe found the worker had 7,000 pornographic files on his EPA computer.

Wait, it gets better:  Porn Guy actually got performance awards on top of his $120,000 salary… something an official from the Inspector General’s office tried to equivocate about under questioning from Rep. John Mica (R-FL), until Mica noticed someone standing in the back of the hearing room, nodding his head in agreement with the charges.

How many other six-figure employees has the EPA got lounging around and watching pornography on office computers for hours a day?  The agency wants to grill us about our carbon emissions, but maybe we don’t want to know too much about their emissions.  This also isn’t the first, or most astonishing, story we’ve heard about EPA employees pulling down big bucks for years without doing any work.  Remember the amazing story of John C. Beale, the “climate change expert” who spent years doing a Ferris Bueller routine, telling anyone who asked about his whereabouts that he was working as a spy for the CIA in Pakistan?

When inspectors tried to get to the bottom of these abuses, they ran afoul of what Fox News refers to as “the agency’s little-known Office of Homeland Security.”  Yes, the EPA has an Office of Homeland Security.  It apparently functions as a sort of Praetorian Guard to protect the Administration from oversight:

The office of about 10 employees is overseen by EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy’s office, and the inspector general’s office is accusing it of operating illegally as a “rogue law enforcement agency” that has impeded independent investigations into employee misconduct, computer security and external threats, including compelling employees involved in cases to sign non-disclosure agreements.

EPA Deputy Administrator Bob Perciasepe told Congress that the agency’s employees work cooperatively with the inspector general and support its mission.

Perciasepe assured Congress that the EPA remains committed to ensuring that the inspector general’s office successfully roots out waste, fraud and abuse across the agency. He said some of the cases aired Wednesday are “not the norm.”

The inspector general, Arthur A. Elkins, Jr., was appointed to lead the office by Obama in 2010. However, it’s an independent office within the agency expected to be outside of political influence.

EPA’s Office of Homeland Security was set up in 2003 by an administrative order, and has no statutory authority to conduct investigations or enforce the law, according to [Assistant Inspector General Patrick] Sullivan’s testimony. Sullivan’s opinion was backed up by a staffer in the Office of Compliance and Enforcement Assurance, but the agency has not issued a legal opinion on the office’s role. Since July 2012, in an agreement with the FBI, it has been the primary contact on all investigations with a connection to national security.

This EPA Homeland Security office even played a role in the John C. Beale saga, and not in a good way:

The dispute between the inspector general’s office and the Homeland Security office came to a head last year, as Republicans in Congress investigated the agency’s handling of John C. Beale, a former deputy assistant administrator who pleaded guilty in federal court last fall to stealing a total of $886,186 between 2000 and April 2013, falsely claiming he was working undercover for the CIA. The Beale case was initially investigated by the Homeland Security office months before the IG’s office was made aware of it.

Sullivan said Wednesday that the office’s actions delayed and damaged their own probe.

The House Oversight Committee ran into the usual Obama Administration stonewall while digging into EPA abuses, leading chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) to threaten contempt charges if documents were not produced pronto.  “This branch of government’s time and willingness to cooperate with delay and denial have expired,” Issa declared, noting that EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy has been ignoring subpoenas since November.

How about that, mainstream media?  Yet another story of ludicrous abuse and Obama Administration cover-ups, ending with yet another smokescreen of deception and lies, culminating in yet more threats of contempt charges that never seem to go anywhere, under an Attorney General who has, himself, been held in contempt of Congress.  Are you hard-hitting investigative journalists getting tired of watching this same story play out over and over again?

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