“The Environmental Protection Agency suppressed the work of its career employees and dismissed legitimate science in taking a key deregulatory action, dozens of former and current employees have alleged. The employees are asking investigators to discipline the top officials responsible.
The complaint, issued by the nonprofit advocacy group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, concerned orders from EPA’s top brass during its process of repealing the Waters of the United States rule implemented during the Obama administration. The current and former employees, made up mostly of EPA staff but also of Army Corps of Engineers and Fish and Wildlife Service workers, called on the EPA inspector general and scientific integrity officer to launch investigations and hold the political appointees accountable. They named EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler and a half-dozen top officials in the agency’s offices of Water and General Counsel in their complaint.
The complainants said political leadership consistently violated provisions of EPA’s Scientific Integrity Policy throughout the deregulatory process. That included when career employees were “explicitly cautioned” not to provide formal comments on the rule that would then become part of its docket, resulting in those comments “being withheld from the public.” This also violated a provision of the integrity policy that prohibits leadership from “intimidating or coercing scientists to alter scientific data, findings or professional opinions,” PEER wrote on behalf of the former and current employees.
PEER noted its complaint reflected the views of all 44 signatories and multiple individuals could personally substantiate each of the allegations. The rule, commonly referred to as WOTUS, defines what is subject to EPA anti-pollution enforcement under the 1972 Clean Water Act. A 2015 EPA rule significantly expanded that definition.”
Read the PEER Story…