Energy

Lawmaker Asks, Is EPA Trying To Cover Up ‘Criminal Activity’?

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Michael Bastasch Energy Editor

Alabama Republican Rep. [crscore]Gary Palmer[/crscore] suggested the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology look into the possible “criminal activity” being perpetrated by Environmental Protection Agency officials, citing recent agency “cover-ups.”

“Mr. Chairman, it may be in our best interest to hold a hearing to see if there might even be criminal activity here because it seems to me that there’s a fraud being perpetrated on the American people,” Palmer said during the hearing Wednesday on EPA’s rules for regional haze.

Environmentalists have been using consent decrees to force EPA to impose stricter haze rules while locking out opposition. The result is costly regulations imposed to imperceptibly improve visibility at some national parks. Republicans argue this shows the cozy relationship between EPA and environmentalists, which Palmer wants to further investigate.

“We know that the EPA was holding seminars to teach their employees how to avoid national archives and records requests using websites set up by outside groups and maintained by outside groups, so there is collusion here,” Palmer, who is a member of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, said.

Palmer’s remarks come as the Energy & Environmental Legal Institute announced it found more evidence top officials at the EPA  were using private email accounts to collude with environmental activists. For years, government watchdogs have been finding more government officials using email accounts to communicate with environmental activists.

Palmer also hammered EPA for trying to cover up its failures at Gold King Mine and Flint, Mich. In both cases, EPA allowed pollutants to contaminate the drinking water for thousands of people.

“The EPA is trying to regulate everything from ditch water to the climate and now the aesthetics of the environment, yet they covered up one of their own scientist’s report in Flint, Michigan about the lead in water up there,” Palmer said.

EPA has been rocked by a series of scandals in recent years. The agency has recently come under fire for not notifying the residents of Flint, Mich. that state regulators hadn’t been properly treating their drinking water, leading to high levels of lead being consumed by children and adults.

Emails made public in the wake of the scandal showed EPA officials knew about the high lead levels for months, but did nothing to notify the public. Instead, the top EPA official did nothing while waiting for a legal opinion on actions she should take. That official resigned in January, and a criminal probe has reportedly been opened.

The Flint water scandal heated up just months after an EPA-led work crew intentionally breached the Gold King Mine in Colorado, unleashing 3 million gallons of toxic wastewater into the Animas River. EPA, however, has yet to launch a criminal investigation, even though legal experts say the agency likely violated federal clean water laws.

“They released millions of gallons of toxic material into the creeks in Georgia and denied that they did it — and finally had to admit it — and then, by their own action released millions of gallons of toxins into the Animas River that flowed all the way down into Colorado and Utah and New Mexico and tried to cover that up,” he added.

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy maintains there’s no evidence of any “negligence” in how the agency or its contractors handled the mine blowout.

A Daily Caller News Foundation investigation into the spill found EPA workers intentionally dug into the abandoned mine based on flawed assumptions and without the proper equipment on site that day — workers didn’t even test to see if the mine was pressurized.

“I think we need to dig deeper into this,” Palmer said of EPA scandals.

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