A report by Senate Republicans contends that the Environmental Protection Agency’s regulatory “playbook” was written by known agency fraudster John Beale, who put into place major air quality regulations that set the stage for “the exponential growth of the agency’s power over the American economy.”
According to Republican senators, Beale used “Machiavellian” tactics to change the role of the EPA from protecting the environment to pushing an ideological political agenda aimed at expanding agency control over the economy.
“This report will reveal that within the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), some officials making critically important policy decisions were not remotely qualified, anything but neutral, and in at least one case — EPA decision making was delegated to a now convicted felon and con artist, John Beale,” wrote Republicans on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.
Beale was sentenced last year to 32 months in prison for stealing nearly $900,000 from taxpayers after years of posing as a CIA operative and abusing his privileges as an EPA senior staff member. The incident has raised questions about the ability of the EPA to stop fraud, as well as the qualifications of agency employees.
Senate Republicans argue that the Beale incident casts doubt on the qualifications of EPA employees: The convicted fraudster rose to a prominent position within the agency after he was hired by a friend — and even though he admitted to having “no legislative or environmental policy experience.”
Beale was hired in 1988 by Robert Brenner, the former deputy director of the Office of Policy Analysis, and Review within the EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation. Brenner was also a close friend with Beale and gave him the lead role of crafting major air-quality regulations in 1995, including the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for Ozone and Particulate Matter.
“Delegating the NAAQS to Beale was the result of Brenner’s facilitating the confidence of EPA elites, making Beale the gatekeeper for critical information throughout the process,” according to the Senate report. “Beale accomplished this coup based on his charisma and steadfast application of the belief that the ends justify the means.”
“Together, Brenner and Beale implemented a plan, which this report refers to as ‘EPA’s Playbook,’” the senators continued. “The Playbook includes several tools first employed in the 1997 process, including sue-and-settle arrangements with a friendly outside group, manipulation of science, incomplete cost-benefit analysis reviews, heavy-handed management of interagency review processes, and capitalizing on information asymmetry, reinforced by resistance to transparency. Ultimately, the guiding principal behind the Playbook is the Machiavellian principal that the ends will justify the means.”
The Senate report details how Beale pushed the NAAQS regulation through despite little scientific evidence. But Beale used a lawsuit settlement with an environmental group to release the rule in the face of opposition. He was able to use a court order to tell NAAQS opponents that the “EPA simply did not have the time to consider dissenting opinions.”
This set in motion what the report calls “a strategy to game the system by compressing the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) review via a friendly sue-and-settle arrangement, relying on secret science, and inflating benefits while underestimating costs.”
President Bill Clinton backed Beale’s NAAQS rule in 1997, effectively shielding Beale from criticism, according to senators. Beale seized on this and began to perpetuate lies about his employment at the CIA along with other falsehoods that allowed him to steal from taxpayers.
“Beale masterminded a whole new way for EPA to — as he said — ‘modify the DNA of the capitalist system‘ and ram regulations through the normal checks and balances to achieve an end, regardless of their costs to Americans or the rule of law,” said Tom Pyle, president of the Institute for Energy Research.
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