Washington, DC – Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) today announced its opposition to the nomination of John Peter Suarez as the top enforcement official within the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on the grounds that he is unqualified for the position.
President Bush announced his intention to nominate Suarez as EPA Assistant Administrator for Enforcement & Compliance Assurance (OECA) on February 27th. This announcement coincided with the high profile resignation of Eric V. Schaefer from OECA citing obstructions to anti-pollution enforcement.
Although Suarez has been nominated to serve as the nation’s top environmental enforcement administrator, he has no experience in environmental law. And, other than his tenure overseeing casinos in the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement, Suarez has no experience in civil litigation, a major part of the OECA workload.
While Suarez served seven years as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the District of New Jersey, his record as a prosecutor shows that he filed fewer cases, won fewer convictions, took more time and obtained shorter sentences than the average prosecutor in both his district and the country. Specifically, during those seven years, Mr. Suarez –
- Had only four jury trials, winning a conviction in only one of those trials;
- Carried a much smaller caseload than the average federal prosecutor. Despite his small caseload, Mr. Suarez declined almost as many cases as he filed. In his last five years, for example, Mr. Suarez filed only 17 prosecutions while declining 12 other cases, listing “lack of prosecution resources” as the reason;
- Obtained shorter prison sentences. His convictions carried an average length of prison time (primarily from plea agreements) well below the average sentence for both his District and the nation. Not one of Mr. Suarez’s “organized crime” cases resulted in a prison term longer than five years.
“Mr. Suarez’s record as a prosecutor is thoroughly undistinguished. If Mr. Suarez is qualified for the top environmental enforcement post, then virtually every lawyer who ever served as a federal prosecutor is similarly qualified,” commented PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch. “This job calls for more than a warm body with the right political connections.”
Copies of the report are available at: www.peer.org/epa/Suarez_Report.pdf