Yet another “safe harbor” e-mail account from ex-EPA chief? Really?

posted at 12:01 pm on February 21, 2013 by Erika Johnsen

The plot thickens: The latest batch of (significantly redacted!) emails released last week revealed that, not only did former EPA chief Lisa Jackson make frequent use of an alias “Richard Windsor” email account to conduct government business, but that she supplemented that account with yet another account registered with the New Jersey government from her old job.

But Chris Horner, a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, said the use of alias and non-federal government accounts suggests a widespread attempt to skirt federal records laws and requests.

… The documents released last week showed that, in at least one case, Jackson also used her New Jersey government email account to forward her Richard Windsor account an article in July 2009.

This would have been months after she left the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. Horner said the account should have been closed by that point. He suggested it was used to protect certain messages from records requests.

“It was no longer an account which anyone would think to have searched under any open records request because there was no defensible reason it should still be in operation,” he told FoxNews.com in an email. “In other words, like the false-identity account, it was a presumed safe harbor. … The question now is to determine just how, in fact, it was used.”

Question: Why isn’t this burgeoning transparency scandal a bigger deal? The EPA obviously has some lame excuse on hand about how officials need internal emails separate from their public ones in order to deal with the sheer volume of communication, but come on — even if that’s really the case, why should EPA have the privilege of so heavily redacting their communications? This isn’t the CIA, for goodness’ sake, and the EPA has a particular penchant for rulemaking that impacts the economy in a reliably negative way. Sorry, EPA, but you work for us, and the fact that your head administrator spent her tenure playing fast and loose with transparency requirements is a sham.

Speaking of EPA chiefs, looks like President Obama has settled on his selections for the new leaders at both EPA and the Department of Energy. Whatever else his second-term energy policy comes up with, we know we’re in for more opprobrious regulations, green-energy “investments,” and energy efficiency mandates, which will by and large come between the auspices of the EPA and DOE. I’m sure the GOP will make an especial issue out of transparency during the confirmation hearings, but it is increasingly clear that the only thing ‘transparent’ about this White House is that they do whatever they darn well please.

Environmental Protection Agency air chief Gina McCarthy and former Clinton Energy undersecretary Ernest Moniz are still seen as clear favorites to help lead President Barack Obama’s energy and environment team, but the official announcements may not be imminent, sources tell POLITICO.

The expectation that Obama will tap McCarthy to lead EPA and Moniz to head the Energy Department hasn’t changed for weeks — and in fact, a limited backlash has already developed for both candidates. Some congressional Republicans are skeptical about McCarthy, while anti-fracking interests are objecting to Moniz because of ties between the petroleum industry and an energy initiative he runs at MIT. …

But while the timing of the announcements may be fluid, observers have little lingering doubt McCarthy and Moniz are indeed the picks.


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