Baby, You Can Drive My Car
A number of the U.S. EPA’s best-trained pollution cops are being taken away from their normal crime-busting duties and put to work as bodyguards, chauffeurs, and even gofers for EPA Administrator Christie Whitman. Frustrated EPA enforcement managers anonymously report that this practice disrupts high-stakes investigations into violations of environmental laws. Agents have been ordered to do everything from return a rental car for Whitman’s husband to sit at a restaurant table to hold a dinner reservation. “To have agents of this level of training acting as a valet service for a sub-Cabinet administrator is a misuse of taxpayer funds,” said one enforcement manager. At the same time, the number of environmental-violation cases filed for federal prosecution has dropped by 40 percent since George Bush became president, according to a Syracuse University research center. EPA headquarters disputes those figures and argues that Whitman has received threats that warrant stepped-up security.