EPA refuses to release science adviser financial conflict of interest documents

Apparently, the Ethics in Government Act does not include the public’s right to know what the EPA’s ethics actually are, or even whether they actually exist.

EPA has stacked a key “independent” science advisory committee with grantee cronies.

Of the 26 EPA-selected members of the Clean Air Act Scientific Advisory Committee Particulate Matter Advisory Panel (CASAC PM Panel), 24 members have received grants from EPA. The total amount of these grants exceeds $190 million. Of the two remaining CASAC PM Panel members, one is a New York State bureaucrat and the other is a gelding from the EPA-terrorized electric utility industry. So the panel is stacked and packed with EPA cronies — in blatant violation of the the Clean Air Act and the Federal Advisory Committee Act.

How did such an obviously corrupt panel come into existence? Although the panel is in theory supposed to be nominated by the public and appointed based on merit, balance and in the interest of EPA getting unbiased scientific advice, the panel was almost totally nominated and selected by the EPA itself — no doubt to advance the EPA’s very twisted PM agenda. A document pried out of EPA via the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) indicates that:

  • Of the 55 individuals nominated for the CASAC PM Panel, EPA itself made 40 of the nominations.
  • Of the 26 individuals selected for CASAC PM Panel, 22 of them were originally nominated by EPA.
  • Of the four CASAC PM Panel members, not nominated by EPA, two were EPA grantees who nominated themselves; one was an EPA grantee who was nominated by another EPA grantee not on the CASAC PM Panel (David Dzombak); and one was nominated by the state of New York DEP.

So only one CASAC PM Panel member (Dirk Felton) was neither nominated by EPA or an EPA grantee — but he was nominated by an EPA-friendly state regulatory agency.

Back in March, I submitted a FOIA request to EPA asking for the financial conflict of interest disclosure statements filed by the CASAC PM Panel members. EPA denied this. This was appealed and the appeal was denied today.

EPA refused the request supposedly because it would embarrass the CASAC PM Panel members as follows:

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It’s a remarkable denial since it’s been already determined from publicly available documents that the 24 of the CASAC PM Panel members have received over $190 million in grants. So is the embarrassing part that none of the CASAC PM Panel members disclosed these grants as financial conflicts of interest? Might those failures be crimes?

EPA also added this excuse, which at least has some law, albeit ill-conceived, behind it:

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We sued EPA several weeks ago to force the agency to reconstitute the CASAC PM Panel in accordance with the law and public interest — i.e., independent and unbiased.

Stay tuned for developments.

A point to ponder in the meantime: What is the point of the Ethics in Government Act when no one can perform oversight? “Trust us” ethics? Really?

6 thoughts on “EPA refuses to release science adviser financial conflict of interest documents”

  1. It is time to put the end to all regulatory agencies, until they can be reformed without any public authority or power, to enact any regulation. They could cut the size of the bureaucracy greater than half. The EPA, Department of Education, and Homeland Security … lead in corrupt and illegal activities against the citizens of the United States

  2. So their justification for not disclosing conflicts of interest that may rise to the level of a criminal conspiracy is that the disclosure may/might be harmful to the interests of those engaged in and aiding and abetting the conspiracy?

  3. Fair enough that personal financial details cannot be made public…
    However, no-one is allowed to conceal any personal information from the IRS…… THEY would no doubt be just as interested in the finances of these people as they would have been in the finances of an EPA official who was also claiming to be a CIA agent……

    BTW, How much will the today-released ‘CIA agent’ be suing the EPA for, because of ‘the harm they caused to him’……..?

  4. In a court of law, conflict of interest is a matter of fact; counsel are clearly representing either one or both sides of the argument.
    In a public-advisory situation, however, any prospective panel member’s possible conflicts of interest*, [actual or merely theoretical], must be assumed to introduce the possibility of bias and hence disqualify that person from appointment.

    ‘Expert advice’ must always be clearly SEEN to be impartial……….

    * ‘when a public official’s personal interests are, or could be, contrary to his/her loyalty to the best interests of the public.’

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