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The EPA’s Secret Email Accounts

Mar 4, 2013, Vol. 18, No. 24
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Last week, James Martin, the Environmental Protection Agency’s administrator for Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming, announced his intention to resign for “personal reasons.” The more likely reason for his resignation is that Martin is currently under a microscope for using a nonofficial email account to hide EPA business from public scrutiny, which would violate transparency laws. 

Lisa Jackson

If this sounds familiar, that’s because EPA head Lisa Jackson already resigned in January, following the revelation that she had conducted extensive official EPA business with a private email alias, “Richard Windsor.” (The Scrapbook suspects Jackson picked up her expertise in ethics back when she was chief of staff to former New Jersey governor Jon Corzine.) Now, when the head of a U.S. cabinet agency resigns under a cloud of scandal, this usually attracts a great deal of attention and is cause for the media to investigate the matter thoroughly. Judging by the lack of headlines generated by Jackson’s conduct in Barack Obama’s self-declared “most transparent administration in history,” you’d be forgiven for concluding that the media are more -lapdog than watchdog when it comes to Democratic attempts to strangle the economy with environmental regulations. 

The Washington Free Beacon is one of the few media outlets plowing through the 12,000 emails the Justice Department has released related to Jackson’s illegal conduct. We suspect that more revelations will be forthcoming. However, the Beacon has so far revealed that the EPA is about as contemptuous of American industry as you always expected.

Take this sycophantic ditty, written to the tune of “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” that was emailed to Jackson by one of her underlings: Yes, Lisa Jackson / Is making all haste / EPA’s cracking down, On combustion waste / Coal ash regs are comin’ to town! / She knows which landfill’s leaching / She knows which pond might break / She knows they all lack liners / Close ’em down, for goodness sake!

Yes, it’s about time someone launched a crusade against the coal industry and their dastardly efforts to supply close to half of American homes with electricity. Jackson’s EPA tenure was certainly marked by vilification of the coal industry, but the comparison to Santa Claus is rather inapt. We’re so far removed from Victorian England we forget that Santa Claus delivering lumps of coal in people’s stockings wasn’t all bad. We no longer burn coal in household stoves in the dead of winter. Instead we burn it in power plants, and it keeps us warm just the same.

In the emails, Jackson also complains about having to answer the questions of GOP-controlled congressional committees. “The GOP should be called out for their kangaroo court,” Jackson wrote. “He is clearly an unethical bully.” According to the Free Beacon, the bully in question is likely a Republican congressman. To summarize, Jackson is lamenting being forced to answer questions from an elected representative, whom she calls “unethical,” even while breaking the law by using a secret email account to hide her conduct from public inquiry.

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