Quantcast
Politics

Top EPA Watchdog Since 2010 Announces Departure

The head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) internal watchdog organization announced plans to leave for a job outside the federal government Tuesday, The Associated Press reported.

Arthur A. Elkins Jr., who has held the position of Inspector General since he was appointed by former president Barack Obama in 2010, will spend his last day at the agency Oct. 12, The Hill reported.


"It has been my great honor and privilege to serve the American people in this role for more than eight years," Elkins said in a statement reported by The Hill.

His departure comes in a particularly busy time for the Office of Inspector General (OIG), as it continues to investigate the actions of former EPA-head Scott Pruitt, who resigned amid several scandals in July.

In one report released Sept. 4, Elkins found that Pruitt had failed to justify the need for his 24-hour security detail.

"Failure to properly justify the level of protective services provided to the Administrator has allowed costs to increase from $1.6 million to $3.5 million in just 11 months," the report found.

OIG spokesperson Jeffrey Lagda told The Associated Press that Elkins' departure was not a response to any aspect of the Pruitt investigation.

He further affirmed Elkins' decision "will definitely not impact any of the ongoing OIG reviews related to allegations regarding former EPA Administrator Pruitt and his staff," Lagda told The Associated Press in an email.

The OIG is conducting four more audits related to Pruitt, three of which are due to be released this fall, Lagda told Reuters.

Other high-profile cases Elkins investigated included that of ex-EPA adviser John C. Beale, who cheated the federal government out of $900,000 by pretending to be a CIA agent, the EPA's handling of the Flint, Michigan water crisis and the Colorado Gold King Mine spill, which was the EPA's fault, according to The Hill.

Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler, a former coal lobbyist, praised Elkins, saying in a statement that he fulfilled his duties "honorably and professionally," The Associated Press reported.

Elkins will be replaced temporarily by deputy Charles Sheehan, who has served at the OIG since 2012.

Before being appointed to head the OIG, Elkins filled legal roles in various federal agencies including the EPA, National Science Foundation, Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency and Department of Defense, Reuters reported.

The OIG is an independently funded office in charge of overseeing the actions of the EPA, according to The Associated Press.

Its head is appointed by the president pending Senate confirmation, Reuters said.

Elkins' departure means President Donald Trump will be able to appoint his successor, The Hill said.

Show Comments ()

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Sponsored
Politics
Jess Lundgren / CC BY 2.0

The Trump Administration’s ‘Dishonest’ Attack on Fuel-Economy Standards

By John R. Platt

The Trump administration's plan to freeze fuel-economy standards is "the most spectacular regulatory flip-flop in history," said a retired EPA engineer who helped to develop new the standards under the Obama administration.

Keep reading... Show less
Adventure
Lizzie Carr traveling down the Hudson River on her stand-up paddleboard. Max Guliani / The Hudson Project

Her Stand-Up Paddleboard Is a Platform for Campaigning Against Plastic Pollution

By Patrick Rogers

Lizzie Carr was navigating a stretch of the Hudson River north of Yonkers, New York, recently when she spotted it—a hunk of plastic so large and out of place that she was momentarily at a loss to describe it.

Keep reading... Show less
Science
The Ross Ice Shelf at the Bay of Whales. Michael Van Woert, NOAA

Scientists Study Ice Shelf by Listening to Its Changing Sounds

By Marlene Cimons

Researchers monitoring vibrations from Antarctica's Ross Ice Shelf were flabbergasted not long ago to hear something unexpected—the ice was "singing" to them. "We were stunned by a rich variety of time-varying tones that make up this newly described sort of signal," said Rick Aster, professor of geosciences at Colorado State University, one of the scientists involved in the study.

Keep reading... Show less
Politics
DSLRVideo.com / Flicker / CC BY-SA 2.0

'Go Out and Vote' Patagonia Endorses Candidates For First Time in Its History

Outdoor brand Patagonia is endorsing candidates for the first time in its history in an effort to protect the country's at-risk public lands and waters.

The civic-minded retailer is backing two Democrats in two crucial Senate races: the re-election of Sen. Jon Tester of Montana; and Rep. Jacky Rosen, who is trying to unseat Republican Sen. Dean Heller in Nevada.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Animals
Desert Bighorn Sheep in Joshua Tree National Park. Kjaergaard / CC BY 3.0

Leaked Trump Administration Memo: Keep Public in Dark About How Endangered Species Decisions Are Made

In a Trump administration memorandum leaked to the Center for Biological Diversity, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is directing its staff to withhold, or delay releasing, certain public records about how the Endangered Species Act is carried out. That includes records where the advice of career wildlife scientists may be overridden by political appointees in the Trump administration.

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
Disposable diapers add staggering amounts of waste to landfills. Pxhere

Dirty Diapers Could Be Recycled Into Fabrics, Furniture Under P&G Joint Venture

Disposal diapers can take an estimated 500 years to decompose. That means if Henry VIII wore disposables, they'd probably still be around today.

Although throwaway nappies are undoubtedly convenient, these mostly-synthetic items cause never-ending steams of waste that will take centuries to disappear.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Popular
The swelling barrier lake after a landslide forced evacuations along the Yarlung Zangbo River. YouTube screenshot / CCTV+

6,000 Evacuated After Tibet Landslide

Six thousand people have been evacuated after a landslide in Tibet Wednesday blocked a river that flows downstream into India, creating a lake that could cause major flooding in the subcontinent once the debris is cleared, The Associated Press reported.

Chinese emergency officials announced the evacuations Thursday. The landslide impacted a village in Menling County, but no one was killed or injured, Chinese officials said.

Keep reading... Show less
Climate
Pexels

Carbon Capture: What We Don’t Talk About When We Talk About Climate Change

By Daniel Ross

The latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report lays out a rather grim set of observations, predictions and warnings. Perhaps the biggest takeaway? That the world cannot warm more than 1.5 degrees Celsius (1.5°C) over pre-industrial levels without significant impacts.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!