Today at the EPA

From Holden:

Bush’s EPA is a disgrace. From gag orders:

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has directed to its staff to “refrain from answering” inquiries from the news media in order to “prevent EPA management from being surprised by news coverage,” according to an agency memo released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).

Earlier this month, Bharat Mathur, the top EPA official for the six-state Mid-western region (covering the states of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin), issued a memo to the entire staff within the region entitled “Working with the Press.” The memo, however, orders EPA not to communicate with, let alone work with, the press. Instead, all inquiries from reporters are to be routed to the EPA Office of Public Affairs.

Mathur’s memo forbids employees from initiating any contact with a reporter or from responding to inquiries made by the members of the press. Even EPA employees who are designated public spokespersons on particular matters must “report their conversations” with reporters to the Office of Public Affairs.

To industry control of environmental policy:

For the third time, environmental advocates have discovered passages in the Bush administration’s proposal for regulating mercury pollution from power plants that mirror almost word for word portions of memos written by a law firm representing coal-fired power plants.

The passages state the Environmental Protection Agency is not required to regulate other hazardous toxins emitted by power plants, such as lead and arsenic. Several attorneys general, as well as some environmental groups, have argued that the Clean Air Act compels the EPA to regulate these emissions as well as mercury.

The revelations concerning language written by Latham & Watkins could broaden an ongoing probe by the EPA’s inspector general into whether the industry had an undue influence on the agency’s proposed mercury rule, legislative critics of the proposed rule said.

Sen. James Jeffords, I-Vt., ranking member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and one of the senators who called for the probe last spring, said the revelation that the EPA adopted the same wording as an industry source “no longer comes as much of a surprise.”

“The Bush administration continues to let industry write the rules on pollution, and this is just one more example of how they abuse the public trust,” he said.

I can’t waint until President Kerry makes Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., head of the EPA.