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Government Agencies Gone Wild: EPA Edition

Government Agencies Gone Wild: EPA Edition

As the co-founder of a Tea Party, you might guess that the federal agency that frustrates me the most is the Internal Revenue Service. However, from the eyes of this environmental health and safety professional, the tax men are a close second to the agents of the Environmental Protection Agency. One of the reasons is its aggressive handling of an investigation that the agency says was conducted because of possible violations of the Clean Water Act.

The recent uproar over armed EPA agents descending on a tiny Alaska mining town is shedding light on the fact that 40 federal agencies – including nearly a dozen typically not associated with law enforcement — have armed divisions. ….The incident that sparked the renewed interest and concern occurred in late August when a team of armed federal and state officials descended on the tiny Alaska gold mining town of Chicken, Alaska.

To put it in perspective, below is a picture of this den of polluting iniquity, which has a population of 17 with dozens of seasonal workers.

Chicken, Alaska in 2006

The agency’s officials have been as forthcoming about their raid as the US State Department has been about Benghazi. From FOX News:

The raid, according to one Senate staffer close to the matter, was conducted as such because of information received from the Alaska State Troopers about rampant “drug and human trafficking” in the area, the Alaska Dispatch reports. That purported explanation was seemingly debunked by a spokeswoman for the law enforcement agency who told the newspaper that it did not advise EPA officials to conduct the raid, adding that no evidence exists to believe those crimes are occurring. Calls seeking additional comment from the Alaska State Troopers were not returned early Friday. “Their explanation — that there are concerns with the area of rampant drug trafficking and human trafficking going on — sounds wholly concocted to me,” Murkowski told the newspaper. “This seems to have been a heavy-handed and heavy-armor approach. Why was it so confrontational? The EPA really didn’t have any good answers for this.”

Interestingly, the mission statement of the EPA centers on protecting human health and safety and the environment. I assert that sending armed agents to terrorize citizens runs counter to that mission.

Furthermore, the EPA bureaucrats seem to have an enforcement bias against conservatives that is no less unfair than that of the IRS:

A second federal agency is facing a probe and accusations of political bias over its alleged targeting of conservative groups. The allegations concern the Environmental Protection Agency, which is being accused of trying to charge conservative groups fees while largely exempting liberal groups. The fees applied to Freedom of Information Act requests — allegedly, the EPA waived them for liberal groups far more often than it did for conservative ones. …Research by the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), a conservative Washington, D.C., think tank, claims that the political bias is routine when it comes to deciding which groups are charged fees. Christopher Horner, senior fellow at CEI, said liberal groups have their fees for documents waived about 90 percent of the time, in contrast with conservative groups that it claims are denied fee waivers about 90 percent of the time.

Finally, the EPA’s regulatory enforcement policies have exceeded their original bounds and are harmful to the economic health of American citizens:

If you want to know how the threat of regulation undermines economic growth, consider Monday’s decision by British mining giant Anglo-American to withdraw from the Pebble Partnership to develop North America’s richest copper and gold deposit in southwest Alaska. The investors haven’t even made a formal proposal. But the Environmental Protection Agency had threatened to issue a pre-emptive veto even before the traditional approving authorities in the state of Alaska and the Army Corps of Engineers had weighed in. The EPA typically regulates projects once they are approved, but in the Obama Administration such notions of regulatory restraint are considered quaint.

Based on how far it has deviated from its original mission, I think this agency is now officially toxic to the Americans it is supposed to protect.

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Comments

When I consider the scope of demolition that I would execute if I were King for a day, I begin to wonder if I have become an anarchyst without knowing it. What branch of government under Obama has not become toxic, if it were one of the few that were non-toxic when his administration began?

It seems to me, sooner or later, there will be a popular uprising against all the power hungry, maniacal, thug, jack-booted federal agencies. Might as well get it over with and start with a clean slate.

    More likely, some day some poor enforcement agent will lose his/her life over an attempt to get something silly like “water samples” or such.
    Then all hell will break loose.

    Musson in reply to walls. | September 19, 2013 at 1:01 pm

    And, that uprising will look like Waco II when the EPA shows up with armored cars and heavy weapons.

“… rampant “drug and human trafficking” in the area …”

Doesn’t that describe DC ?

I’m thinking that Tar and Feathers are actually environmentally friendly…both are naturally occurring!

Well, that was one small nugget of the story. After reading it I actually pictured a brutal raid on that quaint little cafe and all of the Bourbon being confiscated from the Saloon! The real story can be found at the link to the FoxNews article. Shame.

“(EPA) Law Enforcement Officers”
“EPA law enforcement officers, according to the statement, are not only authorized but required to carry firearms to safely and effectively perform their jobs.”

“… to investigate water discharges into rivers, streams, lakes and oceans.”
“The investigation was into possible violations of the Clean Water Act, according to the EPA. The officers were part of the Alaska Environmental Crimes Task Force and visited the outpost near the Canadian border during the third week of August to investigate water discharges into rivers, streams, lakes and oceans.”

“… locals who overwhelmingly oppose the massive project …”
EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, who was confirmed to head the agency in July, toured the mine site with Pebble officials late last month and addressed locals who overwhelmingly oppose the massive project. A study released by the agency in April said the mine could destroy 100 miles of stream and 4,800 acres of pristine wetlands.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/us/2013/09/05/gold-miners-in-remote-alaska-town-reportedly-miffed-over-epa-raids/#ixzz2fLesdAlj

    Insufficiently Sensitive in reply to DriveBy. | September 19, 2013 at 11:44 am

    Alaskans, particularly those who still tend to live independently away from seats of NGOs and NPR and government such as Juneau, are a target-rich environment for the new armed three-letter thugs in the Obama administration. That someone was placer mining would be quite enough evidence of Digging With Intent To Destroy, by the conventional wisdom of the modern EPA, and the gratuitous show of force was no doubt a practice run for larger efforts in the lower 48.

    All the members of that rootin’, tootin’, ready-for-shootin’ EPA raid are now ‘seasoned enforcers’ and will quickly climb the ladders of leadership in the organization. Perhaps the massive buys of ammunition by the Feds are all a part of the new three-letter activism.

    Bruce Hayden in reply to DriveBy. | September 19, 2013 at 11:44 am

    I am not all that bothered by the agents of all these agencies carrying side arms. I had thought from the headlines that they had been pointing M-16s, etc. in everyone’s faces. The heavy body armor is a bit confrontational – should have left off with just the stuff they can put under their shirts. A bunch of those agencies are going to require that their people be armed in the field, esp. up in a remote part of Alaska, and anyone there whose agency makes being armed optional is going to opt to go armed in order to be taken seriously by the rest of the task force.

    One thing to keep in mind is that Alaska has a lot of dangerous wildlife, and in particular, the biggest bears in the country, both brown and polar bears. Esp. now that the feds are relocating problem brown bears into this area of NW Montana that I am currently in, a lot of people now have handguns (or long guns) nearby with loads useful against these bears. Much of Alaska is much worse, with the bigger species of bears never having been hunted out there, as they were in most of the lower 48.

      Insufficiently Sensitive in reply to Bruce Hayden. | September 19, 2013 at 12:01 pm

      One thing to keep in mind is that Alaska has a lot of dangerous wildlife, and in particular, the biggest bears in the country, both brown and polar bears.

      The suggestion of polar bears on the Canadian border is ludicrous.

      But the body armor on the EPA minions is strong evidence that their bosses thought it was time to intimidate some Alaskans, nothing less.

        “But the body armor on the EPA minions is strong evidence that their bosses thought it was time to intimidate some Alaskans, nothing less.” I call that Bullsh*t!

        You know, just because the Left uses propaganda to promote its agenda, does not mean that the Right should do the same. In fact it looks particularly ugly when a member of the Tea Party does what you are trying to get away with.

        Reread the whole paragraph. “Alaska State” has both polar and brown, problem brownies in the lower 48 are being relocated to Montana. Subject shift.

          Bruce Hayden in reply to Phillep Harding. | September 20, 2013 at 8:38 am

          AppologIze for the shift, but just trying to make the point that parts of Alaska are dangerous in ways that much of the rest of the country hasn’t seen for a century or so. Friends around Fairbanks tell me that almost no one locks their doors, but there is little burglary, because most everyone has a min-armory in their homes. Wife grew up in an affluent suburb and had never touched a gun, until she took a job gold panning up rivers to find its source one summer, and her husband-to-be insisted that she carry a weapon, and taught her to use it.

          Point about MT is that it seems to be moving a bit in that direction. Moose are more common, and are frequent visitors to the ranch 5 miles down river. Brown bear are coming back, due to those relocations maybe 30 miles down river, and wolves were coming back strong east and south of here until the state started allowing and controlling their hunting. But close in here, it is black bears – who are frequent visitors to the neighborhood. Safer, but not safe. Bear mace is supposed to work better with them, than their larger cousins, but I also tend to have a firearm around too.

          Here in NW MT, you really don’t think much of open carry in town, and even less out of town, and esp away from vehicles. Worse, in my memory, in AK.

          Back to the raid. I wasn’t all that concerned about the various members of the task force being armed with handguns, given the natural fauna of the state. Would have been though with the heavier body armor, and if they had been threatening everyone with their machine guns (M16s, etc). Plus, as pointed out, many of the agencies involved require their field people to be armed, because, at times, they may be dealing with armed and dangerous people.

    Insufficiently Sensitive in reply to DriveBy. | September 19, 2013 at 11:54 am

    A study released by the agency in April said the mine could destroy 100 miles of stream and 4,800 acres of pristine wetlands.

    The Pebble Mine is a hyper-religious crusade by the Sierra Club and the enviro-zealot community. It has a chance to provide humanity with some very beneficial minerals, but as we see from the leader above, even the mention of those benefits must be snuffed out by hysterical exaggerations of doom and destruction – with no mention or investigation of proposed methods to run the operation safely.

      FoxNews is generally very good. Do you have a link to support you Post?

        Insufficiently Sensitive in reply to DriveBy. | September 19, 2013 at 12:05 pm

        Fox News owns as many liberal journalists as any other news agency, and they express liberal groupthink as well as anyone. Don’t confuse their editorials with news.

        Insufficiently Sensitive in reply to DriveBy. | September 19, 2013 at 12:32 pm

        Unlike ordinary mining operations, this hysterical blast by EPA didn’t even wait for a formal proposal by the mine operators. Instead, the EPA issued its report even though the mine’s developers have not yet submitted a formal plan to government agencies for their approval.

        So all EPA evaluated was its own worst-case exaggeration of what they thought ‘might’ occur. It is a scurrilous departure from the real world, and wasted government time and resources in drafting its massive report based on sheer fictional inventions.

        More time and money were wasted by EPA in hiring a ‘peer review’ of its fiction: As part of its assessment of the proposed Pebble Mine, the EPA commissioned Springfield, Virginia-based Versar Inc. to undertake a peer review of the agency’s findings.

        The results weren’t pretty: External Peer Review of EPA’s Draft Document: An Assessment of Potential Mining Impacts on Salmon Ecosystems of Bristol Bay, Alaska,5 is unsparing in its criticism of the agency’s work.

        And you thought Fox News was trustworthy?

      What they say resonates with both the locals and the fishermen. The local economy is “FISH!”, and that deposit is right in the middle of some valuable spawning grounds.

      While Pebble might create jobs, the people who live there are not going to get any of them. Outsiders will get the jobs, outsiders will benefit, local concerns will be ignored. Locals will lose all political influence.

      Of course, the local also face total loss of political influence if this comes down to fight between big money mining and crooked politicians, and big money conservation and crooked politicians.

    Bruce Hayden in reply to DriveBy. | September 20, 2013 at 9:02 am

    But that gets into why there is a problem in the first place. The EPA routinely shuts down businesses, putting their employees out of work, seemingly at the insistence of suburban environmentalists, but now maybe even beyond that. Worse maybe, they seem poised to completely shut down coal based power generation, eliminating a large part of the American coal mining industry, and all the jobs involved or related to that industry, all based on what s e coming ever more evidently was junk science (that the EPA really didn’t do much of itself, but rather appropriated from elsewhere, notably the politicized UN and the IPCC). Obama has appointed a number of progressive zealots to top posts in his Administration, and this may be most evident in places like the EPA and DoE. His people at those agencies are on a mission to permanently eliminate as much fossil fuel usage in this country by the time Obama leaves office, and really don’t care how many people are thrown out of their jobs as a result. But, of course, those whose jobs are lost as a result of agency actions do care, and care quite a bit.

    So, instead of stopping the discussion with pointing out that much agency action has now been criminalized, I would think it more prudent to ask whether that is really a good idea, esp when so many of these agency actions are in reaction to political pressure from people often thousands of miles away, while the people most affected are ignored.

      Phillep Harding in reply to Bruce Hayden. | September 20, 2013 at 11:42 am

      Local hearings are poorly advertised and are usually held during work hours. Local papers do not put the meeting on the front page until after the fact, if at all. “Concerned parties” come from all across the nation, can’t imagine how they can afford the travel. Or how they heard of the meetings. These outsiders are also skilled in arguing and very articulate, locals not so much.

      The wonder is that we have retained as much local autonomy as we have.

Immolate: Fixed it for you.
What branch of government has not become toxic, if it were one of the few that were initially non-toxic?

This all started long before Obama was even born, he is just the latest progressive.

Using hot pine tar, real feathers, and freshly split cedar rails. Apply tar & feathers, tie to rail and toss into Potomac River in proper Colonial tradition.

An armed EPA?

It’s time to take the guns from the crazy people.

I think that this, in conjunction with the increased arming of the civilian popuation, is evidence that we have an arms race going on, and I would suggest that it is primarily because the government is no longer of the people, but rather, governs over them.

Why would the EPA need to arm their field people? Because they are in the job of putting people out of work and killing industries. Should anyone be surprised that, say, a coal miner, is upset at the EPA, when his father and grandfather had also been coal miners, and maybe back into Wales, etc. before they came over here, and the EPA, based on junk climatic science (and apparentlly no actual research of their own) shuts down most of the industry, putting him out of work? Esp. under Obama, the zealots have taken over a lot of these agencies (with, of course, the EPA at least near the lead there), with the agencies tasked to implement radical agendas totally at odds with much of the country. And, when that results in the loss of jobs, property, freedom, or lives, the agencies really do need to arm their peoplel in order to carrry out the will of these unelected bureaucrats completely at odds with much of the country.

PersonFromPorlock | September 19, 2013 at 12:25 pm

“I assert that sending armed agents to terrorize citizens runs counter to that mission.”

Obviously, those who have done nothing wrong wrong have nothing to fear: so terrorizing the terrorizable is good. ;^)

For anyone interested, this article has the listing of the “70 Federal Agencies” that have officers with firearms who have the authority to make an arrest:

http://www.examiner.com/article/over-70-federal-agencies-have-armed-divisions-arrest-authority-over-citizens

    Phillep Harding in reply to DriveBy. | September 19, 2013 at 1:09 pm

    Which makes it alright? A standing army tasked with keeping citizens “in order”?

    http://www.hawaii.edu/powerkills/

    You know how to make trouble, and that means that YOU would be on the “clean up” list once the “conservatives” are “neutralized”.

      It looks alright to me Phillep, but then I have not considered the “Democide” angle being spewed on the internet by someone in Hawaii. So you are Libertarian! That is not Conservative, Phillep; it is actually a mix of Left and Right with some fun stuff thrown in for good measure.

      You can carry a weapon, and I know you do not question whether that is right or wrong, and neither do I. So in considering your question I look at the fact that places like the Smithsonian Institute, the Supreme Court, etc… need a permanent police presence, an armed police presence. And some government agencies (EPA, U.S. Postal Service, etc…) do investigate criminal activity, serve search warrants, and arrest criminals, many of whom have a history or a potential for violence. So yea, I’m OK. You?

I don’t know if the EPA thugs have really thought this through. My favorite scene from Snatch comes to mind.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AR8SkOhKG9Y

“Why was it so confrontational?”

It’s called ‘practice’ lady. And it’s a hell of a rush.

EPA is tasked with investigating and enforcing federal laws. Criminal investigators in the federal system (1811’s) get a badge, a gun, and more training than most police officers. Regardless of whether one agrees with the laws in question or the agency’s policies, criminal investigators are, by definition, likely to deal with criminals.

It’s particularly unsettling to see so many people complaining about the federal agents being armed IN ALASKA, where everyone has a state-granted right to carry a firearm to begin with. So even if the home office back in DC didn’t authorize it, those agents wouldn’t have been doing anything wrong under AK law.

This anti-feds-with-guns thing is a typical kneejerk reaction to typical liberal kneejerk reactions calling for more gun control. They say more gun control, we start complaining about jackbooted thugs. Lather, rinse, repeat.

If you take the time to explore, you’d probably be quite surprised at how many lethal encounters occur between criminals and feds from agencies that aren’t traditionally thought of as primarily “law enforcement.” The first one that comes to my mind is a rather well known incident involving the US Postal Service: while serving a warrant for sending child pornography through the mail, a team of US Postal Inspectors came under fire from the rifle-wielding suspect. I’m also friends with the brother of one of the victims of the RCMP’s Mayerthorpe incident… in which four constables were shot and killed in what started as a simple vehicular seizure/repossession.

I’m not trying to defend how the EPA does business or who it chooses to go after. But when it sends its investigators to deal with potential criminals, it makes sense for those criminal investigators to be armed.

    Phillep Harding in reply to toddlouisgreen. | September 19, 2013 at 1:11 pm

    Soooo, “Why do we have Federal Marshals?”

      toddlouisgreen in reply to Phillep Harding. | September 19, 2013 at 1:26 pm

      Phillep — I’m not sure I understand your question. There are a few different agencies that refer to their personnel as “Marshals” under the federal law enforcement system. The two most familiar would be:

      US Marshal Service, part of the US Department of Justice, is tasked with, among other things, apprehending felons who cross state lines and transporting prisoners in the federal criminal system. As such, they are regularly in contact with violent criminals. Of the 261 USMS personnel killed in the line of duty, 225 of them were as a result of criminal violence.

      Federal Air Marshal Service, part of the US Department of Homeland Security, is tasked with providing an armed counter-terrorism presence aboard US-flag commercial passenger aircraft. Presumably, their need to be armed is not in question.

        Phillep Harding in reply to toddlouisgreen. | September 19, 2013 at 3:52 pm

        The original Federal Marshals, whose function has been taken over by the more recently armed people in agencies that should not be armed, IMO.

        If they need someone with a firearm, they should tap the original Marshals or local enforcement. They should not have the authority to assign people to use lethal force in carrying out their regulations, and be answerable to the public for putting an armed guard or enforcement thug out there.

        Yes, yes, I know. It’s for “self defense”.

        Bull.

        All gov’t laws, regulations, rules, depend on the ability to kill those who refuse to follow such. It’s basic to enforcement. (A word based on “force”, I might point out.)

    Todd, you are incorrect. The EPA is tasked with and enforcing Federal REGULATIONS concerning the environment. They are not constituted as a law enforcement agency.

      toddlouisgreen in reply to Paul. | September 19, 2013 at 5:43 pm

      Paul — that’s incorrect. See:
      http://www2.epa.gov/enforcement/enforcement-basic-information

      Again, EPA’s CID is manned by 1811’s who are in fact tasked with legitimate federal law enforcement action.

      Phillep — While I appreciate the sentiment, that’s simply not how the system works. In fact, federal agencies usually are not allowed to commandeer local & state employees to do their bidding at whim. We have different federal agencies for the same reason we have different military branches. The alternative would be to put all federal law enforcement power into a single agency (a super-FBI, in a sense) which obviously creates far greater problems.

        Todd, A mission statement by the agency doesn’t make it correct.

        If I declare myself to be capable of enforcing the law, does that suddenly make me a law enforcement agent?

        Here are the laws which constitute the EPA’s authority:

        http://www.epa.vic.gov.au/about-us/legislation/acts-administered-by-epa

        Beyond that, they have NO authority to be enforcing laws outside their purview.

          Paul in reply to Paul. | September 20, 2013 at 7:04 am

          it is outside of their “Jurisdiction” so to speak, to be going after “Drug use and Human Trafficking”.

          Paul in reply to Paul. | September 20, 2013 at 7:13 am

          Sorry, I inadvertently posted Canada’s law page, instead of the US.

          Here is the corrected webpage, and the pertinent quotation:

          “Criminal enforcement investigates and assists in the criminal prosecution of deliberate or egregious violations of ENVIRONMENTAL laws or regulations and any ASSOCIATED violation of the U.S. criminal code.” (Emphasis mine)

          http://www2.epa.gov/enforcement/enforcement-basic-information

          Paul in reply to Paul. | September 20, 2013 at 7:14 am

          Er Australia’s, not Canada. Those commonwealth countries, sheesh. od It’s early in the morning. Forgive me.

          toddlouisgreen in reply to Paul. | September 20, 2013 at 3:17 pm

          Paul — Thank you for your honesty and making sure you got the right info about the EPA’s jurisdiction. I’ll assume we’re settled, then, that EPA’s Criminal Enforcement folks are authorized to investigate and enforce environmental laws.

          As 1811s, they’re also authorized by law to investigate and enforce general (Title 18) federal crimes. This usually comes about as a result of multi-jurisdictional, multi-agency task forces and the like.

          I totally understand folks being offended by the overreach of the EPA and the current administration’s use of that agency, environmental laws, and environmental issues to strong arm inappropriate policies. I’m right there with you. But that’s completely separate from whether trained, dedicated law enforcement officers acting properly under color of law should be attacked and criticized just because they happen to be carrying pistols in their holsters.

It’s the tip of the iceberg. The Federal Government is readying itself for a coup. All the police departments, and federal agencies, have been militarized to the hilt!

You could call what the EPA did “an exercise” to keep their troops busy. And, for the troops to “feel” the power they have against the People.

The “law” can always find something if it cares to look. Heck, the townspeople could have faced arrest for dirty license plates.

Did they think this story would go viral? No.

Do they intend to stop what they’re doing? No.

But I’m not so sure a coup would be successful.

So far they’re just strutting their stuff through our Amendment Rights. We also know that John Roberts set up the secret courts (FISA). And, also chose the judges to sit on them. Vinson is one. Walton another. But for the most part you don’t know the insiders from a hole in the wall.

That you know our: FIRST, SECOND, FOURTH, FIFTH and SIXTH Amendemnts have been eroded is becoming widespread. Glenn Greenwald (who graduated NYU Law in 1994,spells this all out in his book (which came out before the Snowden leaks): “With Liberty and Justice for SOME.

We’ve elected people to Congress who have ZERO use for the citizens who elected them. Dianne Fienstink is a prime example of someone well versed in ORWELLIAN language. The “patriot” act, isn’t.

Now, her grab to “define” journalists, so that the DoJ can validate these credentials is her doing. (She says “she’s doing this for you.”)

The few. The rich. And, the well connected. Have taken over DC. And, the military. And, in today’s world there aer no laws that put them in jail. Just look at Wall Street!

Of course, no one forces you to do business with Wall Street. And, you’re not going to keep your savings in your mattress.

(Back in 1932, when America was deep into the Great Depression, people had to be convinced it was safe to put money in banks. And, banks, for their survival, depended on depositors willing to trust them. Instead of their mattresses.

When Thomas Jefferson wrote our Declaration of Independence, the thoughts in them were UTOPIAN! We had slavery. We’d demolish the Native American tribes. Women couldn’t vote. And, it took a long time to bring reality to bear on “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Abraham Lincoln, in 1859 said Thomas Jefferson’s vision was now embalmed on America’s psyche. This remains true.

While very big money seems to have bought “the place,” we’re still of free will to turn down these offerings when we go to vote.

We probably have the century ahead to clean up this fine mess.

While all those who think they can control outcomes, they forget about death. And, what happens when we look back … and don’t even see shadows of men, who were in their time, called ‘great.’ And, no reason for this survives.

Without Monica, Bill Clinton wouldn’t have much to go on. But, yes. What he did with Monica will survive.

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