EPA under fire for continuing to use consultant that fabricated data

A mining policy group is urging Congress to investigate the Environmental Protection agency’s relationship with an environmental consulting firm that recently admitted to falsifying a key report in a multi-billion dollar environmental lawsuit.

“We were concerned by the news of this admission, as public records show that EPA has multiple active contracts with Stratus Consulting collectively worth up to tens of millions of taxpayer dollars,” said Daniel McGroarty, president of the American Resources Policy Network (ARPN), in a letter to Congress and the Obama administration.

Stratus was hired by U.S. trial lawyer Steven Donziger, who represents Ecuadorian villagers in a lawsuit against Chevron over environmental damages allegedly caused by the company’s subsidiary Texaco.

The company was ordered by Donziger to write portions of the report detailing the environmental damages in the first person to make it appear as if it was written by Richard Cabrera, the court-appointed independent expert.

This environmental report was used as evidence during Chevron’s trial in Ecuador, resulting in a $19 billion judgment against the company.

“I disavow any and all findings and conclusions in all of my reports and testimony on the Ecuador Project. I deeply regret that I allowed myself and my company to be used in the Lago Agrio Litigation in the way that we were,” said Stratus executive vice president Doug Beltman in his court declaration.

However, it was also reported that research by Stratus scientist Ann Maest was cited by the EPA in its second draft assessment of the Pebble Mine in Bristol Bay, Alaska. The Pebble Mine has been a battleground between the EPA and congressional Republicans over the limits of the environmental agency’s power.

“We also discovered that several research reports authored by Ann Maest, Managing Scientist for Stratus Consulting — who played a key role in producing and personally disavowed the falsified research in Ecuador — are currently being used to support a major environmental assessment by EPA,” McGroarty said.