The Environmental Protection Agency has a lot of exciting plans for wide-ranging and economy-impeding environmental regulations coming down the pipeline, but at least we can take a small bit of comfort in knowing that particularly zealous and independent federal agency is such a shining example of the Obama administration’s famed honesty and transparency as well as a paragon of bureaucratic competence.

I kid, of course.

First, here’s an update on the continuing saga of the life and times of Richard Windsor — and if you’ve never actually heard of Richard Windsor, that’s because it’s the fictional alter email ego of one Lisa Jackson, former head of Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency. Jackson conducted a good bit of official EPA business on the undisclosed email account in what looks an awful lot like a deliberate attempt to skirt FOIA laws, and the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is following up. Via The Hill:

Former Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson will testify before House Republicans who allege that she shielded agency business from public view by using secondary and perhaps personal email accounts.

Jackson, now a top environmental official at the tech giant Apple, is among the current and former federal officials slated to appear at the Sept. 10 House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing titled “Preventing Violations of Federal Transparency Laws.”

“Officials in multiple Administrations have struggled to fully comply, and in some instances willfully flaunted, federal transparency and record keeping laws through their use of non-official e-mail and other electronic communications to conduct official government business,” committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) said in a statement announcing the hearing.

Now, for today’s truly bizarre report from the Washington Post on the upcoming trial of a longtime, high-level EPA employee who managed to deceive the steal hundreds of thousands of dollars and deceive the agency about his actual job and whereabouts, for over twelve years.

Over the past 12 years, John C. Beale was often away from his job as a high-level staffer at the Environmental Protection Agency. He cultivated an air of mystery and explained his lengthy absences by telling his bosses that he was doing top-secret work, including for the CIA.

For years, apparently, no one checked.

Now, Beale is charged with stealing nearly $900,000 from the EPA by receiving pay and bonuses he did not deserve. He faces up to three years in prison.

Beale, 64, who was a senior policy adviser in the Office of Air and Radiation, is expected to plead guilty at a hearing scheduled for Monday at U.S. District Court in Washington. …

At agency headquarters on Pennsylvania Avenue, Beale fostered an enigmatic image. He frequently traveled to China, South Africa and England, according to several people who worked with him. …

It really just fills you with confidence for our huge, sprawling federal bureaucracy, doesn’t it?

And finally, a wildly discouraging but little noticed report from the EPA inspector general. It appears that the people writing our complex, far-reaching, and ideologically driven environmental regulations… have a scientific-inquiry integrity problem. Great.

The Environmental Protection Agency didn’t develop a program to instruct employees on the standards of scientific inquiry and the agency has not generated an annual report on the status of scientific integrity within the agency, an Aug. 28 EPA inspector general report (.pdf) says. …

The policy originated from a Dec. 17, 2010 memo (.pdf) from the Office of Science and Technology Policy that provided guidance to strengthen actual and perceived credibility of government research.

The policy tasks the EPA’s Scientific Integrity Committee with developing a training program and producing an annual report, the report says.

Because the EPA failed to implement the two tasks, the agency doesn’t know if its employees are complying with the policy and can’t detect violations of scientific integrity, the report says.