Diary

EPA’s Addiction to Fraud, Waste, and Pornography

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is one of the world’s largest and most powerful government agencies, and as recent reports have shown, EPA under the Obama administration has become a rogue government agency whose current powers make it one of the most corrupt and dangerous government organizations in America.

In recent months, EPA—an agency that employs more than 1,000 attorneys, has a budget of $8.13 billion, and pays its employees more than double what the average U.S. household earns—has been embroiled in countless scandals.

In February and March, it was revealed by the EPA Office of the Inspector General (OIG) there was a widespread agency problem related to employees watching pornography while at work on government computers. According to a report by Judicial Watch, one employee had downloaded more than 7,000 pornographic files onto his computer and spent as many as six hours per day watching porn. In April, it was revealed that employee, whose behavior had first been reported in 2014, had retired from EPA after enjoying several months of paid leave. The unnamed employee had earned a salary of $120,000 per year.

As of May 1, another EPA employee who had been caught watching pornography by a child visiting the government agency on “Take Your Kids to Work Day” was still receiving paid leave, which the employee had been receiving for more than a year.

In October, the Washington Times reported EPA had spent tens of millions of dollars on office furniture since the mid-2000s, including $813.57 for a drawer to store pencils. Reporter Kellan Howell reported, “The Environmental Protection Agency over the past decade has spent a whopping $92.4 million to purchase, rent, install and store office furniture … according to federal spending data made public by the government watchdog OpenTheBooks.com.”

In late November, OIG announced a new employee at the Research Triangle Park Finance Center in North Carolina received an “unprecedented” $9,000 bonus for only three months of work, in addition to the employee’s salary, which is reportedly greater than $100,000 per year.

In EPA’s report, which concluded there was no wrongdoing, the justification given for the $9,000 bonus was that the employee “took extraordinary initiative to assist the Acting Chief Financial Officer in a final decision to transition the EPA to a fully automated invoice processing system,” along with other similarly unimpressive acts.

While EPA employees are apparently capable of earning a $9,000 bonus for assisting another employee “in a final decision” on an invoice processing system and doing what most would consider normal day-to-day work, the average U.S. worker only earned about $44,000 in 2014, and the median U.S. worker earned significantly less.

EPA’s tremendous growth in power is perhaps best displayed by its attempt to implement its proposed Waters of the United States rule (WOTUS), a sweeping regulation that would grant broad powers to EPA to create what amounts to a sort of federal zoning system in any part of the country where even the smallest body of water exists. In October, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit issued a temporary nationwide injunction on WOTUS due to the tremendous power it would likely give the government agency, and WOTUS’ opponents say the rule violates the plain language of the Clean Water Act.

Most Americans believe the government needs to play an important role in protecting the environment. If businesses are left without any environmental regulations, many speculate wealthy corporations will choose to cause significant harm to the planet and our local communities in the pursuit of a quick dollar. Even if this is a reasonable fear, it has now become almost impossible to justify the existence of the current form of EPA, perhaps the most out-of-control government agency in the nation, when virtually every state has its own strict environmental standards and agencies created to protect local environments.

It’s not unreasonable to suggest there is still a role for a national environmental agency that plays a very limited role in protecting the environment on federal lands and resolving disputes between the states, but the current EPA is a far cry from anything that even remotely resembles a reasonable government agency.

Americans should stand firm against EPA’s growing authority and corruption and call for a significant roll back of this truly reckless example of tyrannical and irresponsible government.

Justin Haskins ([email protected]) is editor of The Heartland Institute and the author of Heartland’s weekly Consumer Power Report.