Another email scandal - the EPA

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My favorite branch of the Federal Government... From Kimberley A. Strassel writing at the Wall Street Journal:

The EPA’s Own Email Problem
When a government official (think Hillary Clinton) uses a private email account for government work (think Hillary Clinton) and then doesn’t turn over records (think Hillary Clinton), the public has to wonder why. For an example of that why, consider Thursday’s federal-court subpoena of Phillip North.

The North story hasn’t gotten a lot of attention, but it is a useful tale for clarifying exactly why we have federal records and sunshine laws. You see, government workers don’t use private email because it is “convenient.” They use private email to engage in practices that may be unsavory, or embarrassing, or even illegal. Let’s be clear about that.

Mr. North was, until a few years ago, a biologist at the Environmental Protection Agency, based in Alaska. Around 2005 he became enmeshed in reviewing the Pebble Partnership’s proposal to develop a mine there. Mr. North has openly admitted that he was opposed to this idea early on, and he is entitled to his opinion. Still, as a government employee his first duty is to follow the law.

More:

The biologist was deeply involved in most of the work on Pebble, and would later brag about his role in killing the project. He had briefed high-level officials; drafted an early “options paper” laying out the veto strategy; and taken a star role in the “science” the EPA would use to justify the 2014 veto. But perhaps Mr. North’s biggest contribution was as serving as a liaison to (and coordinating with) anti-mine activists.

The EPA would ultimately claim that it acted “in response to petitions” filed against the mine in 2010 by Native American tribes. But those petitions didn’t spring from nowhere. According to documents Pebble has given a federal court, Mr. North was working with those outside activists to engineer the petitions—from inside the EPA. He also worked with the activists, including a lawyer representing the tribes, to hone the EPA’s veto strategy. And he did this via a private email address. Why? Because he shouldn’t have been doing any of it.

More:

It gets weirder, in that Mr. North was one of those Obama employees whose government hard drives conveniently crashed. Only after Congress started investigating the Pebble scandal did the EPA inform lawmakers that Mr. North’s crash just happened to wipe out documents from the period in question.

Mr. North has refused to appear before the House Oversight Committee and has left the country - now thought to be in Australia. These people have our best interests at heart...

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This page contains a single entry by DaveH published on August 31, 2015 6:36 PM.

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