Wednesday, 07 May 2014 09:46
Written by Joe Wolverton, II, J.D.
A “rogue” group within the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that is run out of the White House is operating outside the law and for years has “blocked independent investigations by the EPA’s inspector general,” according to an Associated Press account of an EPA investigator’s prepared congressional testimony.
In testimony at a hearing of a House oversight committee scheduled for Wednesday, May 7, Patrick Sullivan, an assistant EPA inspector general for investigations, is expected to provide compelling evidence of an extraordinary abuse of power — even for Barack Obama — by the all but unknown EPA Office of Homeland Security.
The Associated Press reports:
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 impeding its independent investigations into employee misconduct, computer security and external threats, including compelling employees involved in cases to sign non-disclosure agreements.
“Under the heavy cloak of ‘national security,’ the Office of Homeland Security has repeatedly rebuffed and refused to cooperate with the OIG’s ongoing requests for information or cooperation,” Sullivan wrote in prepared testimony obtained by The Associated Press. “This block unquestionably has hamstrung the Office of Inspector General’s ability to carry out its statutory mandate to investigate wrongdoing of EPA employees.”
In other words, a unit within the EPA that is under the direct control of the White House and its political associates is using the “national security” trope to actively prevent investigations into EPA violations of the law. Given the high profile of their benefactor, this group fears no repercussions.
According to the Associated Press, it seems a similar situation exists, or until recently existed, inside the Departments of Homeland Security and Defense. The article outlines the following problems with political influence over the supposedly independent inspectors general:
Two weeks ago, the Homeland Security Department secretary put the agency’s former inspector general on administrative leave after senators said he was too cozy with senior agency officials and improperly rewrote, delayed or classified some critical reports to accommodate Obama’s political appointees.
Last year, the Defense Department’s inspector general removed material from a draft report that concluded then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta had improperly disclosed classified information about the raid that killed Osama Bin Laden to a producer for the movie “Zero Dark Thirty.”
Representative Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), a frequent foe of the Obama administration, is advantageously positioned to put the screws to the president in this scandal, as well. As chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Issa will be heading the investigation in the White House’s secret EPA squelch squad. “It’s disturbing that even investigations by this administration’s own nonpartisan watchdogs are being blocked by political appointees,” Issa said, as quoted by the AP.
Given the EPA’s egregious disregard for the Constitution and the formerly unalienable rights of life, liberty, and property, it is little wonder that the president’s political team has spiked any investigation that might expose to the light of public notice the truth of the agency’s reign of terror. The evidence is overwhelming.
Two years ago, the Supreme Court handed the EPA (and the Obama administration) an unfavorable ruling in the case of Sackett v. U.S., but it’s the events leading up to that high court hearing that boil the blood of constitutionalists and property owners. Asreported by William Jasper, senior editor of The New American:
How long would your bank account hold out if an agency of the federal government were fining you $75,000 per day? A couple of hours, maybe — or a few minutes? Not many homeowners could handle that kind of crushing financial blow. Even a Bill Gates, a Warren Buffett, or a George Soros might blanch at such astronomical fines.
But that was the potential cost facing Idaho couple Mike and Chantelle Sackett … who ran into the iron fist of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) when they began building their home in 2007 on a two-thirds acre parcel in a residential neighborhood of Priest Lake. Like their neighbors who had already built homes next door, the Sacketts got their permits from the county and began laying gravel and preparing the ground for building. That’s when the EPA came in and, without hearings or notice, declared that the property is “wetlands” and ordered the Sacketts to restore it to the EPA bureaucracy’s satisfaction.
The Sacketts, having good reasons to believe their property is not a wetlands, were determined to contest the EPA order. However, the EPA denied their request for a hearing. They sought judicial relief, but the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals sided with the EPA, ruling that the Sacketts had no right to immediate judicial review of the matter. The Ninth Circuit held that the couple would first have to go through the EPA’s years-long wetlands permit process, which would end up costing the property owners many times the value of their land!
Basically, a group of unelected and unaccountable federal officials has shattered the dreams of the Sackett family, robbed them of the due process of law guaranteed to every citizen by the Constitution, and charged them $75,000 a day for the privilege.
The Sacketts understood the enormity of the issue raised by their pouring of a little gravel on less than an acre of land. Said Mrs. Sackett in the days leading up to the Supreme Court decision, “The EPA can come in and turn your life upside down. They can make you feel really small and insignificant. And they take away from you your sense of America.”
The EPA is not content to obliterate property rights, however. Recent actions taken against the country’s last lead smelting facility will affect the right to keep and bear arms, as well, by substantially impacting the production of ammunition. On December 31, 2013, the lead refining plant closed for good.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported just before the shuttering of the plant:
About 145 employees of the Doe Run lead smelter [in Herculaneum, Missouri] learned they will lose their jobs at the end of December because of the plant’s closure, the Doe Run Co. said Wednesday. An additional 73 contractor jobs also will be eliminated.
By forcibly closing this plant, the Obama administration took yet another unconstitutional step — one that will severely impinge on the nation’s ammunition-manufacturing capability.
Why would the Doe Run Company, the owners of the Missouri lead smelting facility, agree to being run out of business by the EPA? One word: extortion.
In a document published on its website, the EPA explains that in order for Doe Run to continue its operations, the company would have to agree to pay “$65 million to correct violations of several environmental laws at 10 of its lead mining, milling and smelting facilities in southeast Missouri. The settlement also requires the company to pay a $7 million civil penalty.”
In a statement to the press, Doe Run said the fine and the required upgrades to its facilities were “too financially risky.”
In cases such as those of the Sacketts, the Doe Run smelting facility, and scores of others nationwide, the EPA’s heavy handed, unconstitutional tactics should have been investigated and the nearly unbounded power should have been reined in.
They carried on without oversight, however, and perhaps now we know why.
Many who have felt the wrath of the president’s shadowy EPA division are hopeful that the House’s committee hearings will finally expose the group’s many misdeeds.
Joe A. Wolverton, II, J.D. is a correspondent for The New American and travels nationwide speaking on nullification, the Second Amendment, the surveillance state, and other constitutional issues. Follow him on Twitter @TNAJoeWolverton and he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.