The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
Top EPA Watchdog Since 2010 Announces Departure
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.
- The Energy 202: Scott Pruitt is still under investigation by EPA ... ›
- EPA Watchdog Probing Air-Quality Results Issued After Hurricane ... ›
- EPA watchdog opens latest investigation into Scott Pruitt's spending ... ›
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
The annual Arctic thaw has kicked off with record-setting ice melt and sea ice loss that is several weeks ahead of schedule, scientists said, as the New York Times reported.
'This Should Scare the Hell Out of You': Photo of Greenland Sled Dog Teams Walking on Melted Water Goes Viral
By Jon Queally
In yet the latest shocking image depicting just how fast the world's natural systems are changing due to the global climate emergency, a photograph showing a vast expanse of melted Arctic ice in Greenland — one in which a pair of sled dog teams appear to be walking on water — has gone viral.
By Tia Schwab
It has been almost a year since Hurricane Florence slammed the Carolinas, dumping a record 30 inches of rainfall in some parts of the states. At least 52 people died, and property and economic losses reached $24 billion, with nearly $17 billion in North Carolina alone. Flood waters also killed an estimated 3.5 million chickens and 5,500 hogs.
'Huge Victory' for Grassroots Climate Campaigners as NY Lawmakers Reach Deal on Sweeping Climate Legislation
By Julia Conley
Grassroots climate campaigners in New York applauded on Monday after state lawmakers reached a deal on sweeping climate legislation, paving the way for the passage of what could be some of the country's most ambitious environmental reforms.
Tens of Thousands Flee Extreme Heatwave in India as Temperatures Topping 120°F Kill Dozens Across Country
By Julia Conley
Nearly 50 people died on Saturday in one Indian state as record-breaking heatwaves across the country have caused an increasingly desperate situation.
By Will J. Grant
In an ideal world, people would look at issues with a clear focus only on the facts. But in the real world, we know that doesn't happen often.
People often look at issues through the prism of their own particular political identity — and have probably always done so.