Public, Government Agencies
The Daily Caller
An EPA-funded environmental group has been disseminating misleading data about refineries to make them appear to be more dangerous than they actually are in order to invite federal intervention, according to a report to be released early this week.
The Environmental Protection Agency has been bankrolling a project by the Louisiana Bucket Brigade, a state-based environmental group, called the Refinery Efficiency Initiative which has been presenting misleading information to the media and to regulators, according to a report by the Pelican Institute, a Louisiana-based think tank.
“[The Louisiana Bucket Brigade] refinery transparency initiative bankrolled with taxpayer money has flooded the public with murky, inaccurate data, thereby defeating the original goal,” according to the report.
This EPA region has been caught up in controversy before as former Director Al Armendariz compared his approach to enforcing regulations on hydraulic fracking to that of Roman crucifixions in a 2010 video, saying “they’d find the first five guys they saw and they’d crucify them.” He resigned and was later hired by the Sierra Club, a current funder of LABB.
LABB’s Refinery Efficiency Initiative aims to educate the public by gathering data on unplanned plant emissions, using the refinery industry’s own data, according to the report. The program’s stated goal is to “collaborate with refinery communities and gain a comprehensive understanding of unauthorized discharges to the air and water from Louisiana refineries.”
“Alas, the LABB’s data isn’t close to being accurate -- the research it has provided to the press, the public and the EPA makes the refineries appear to be operating in a dangerous and cavalier manner,” the report continues.
The report claims the EPA knows that LABB is presenting misleading data to the public but has done nothing to stop the behavior.
According to the report, LABB’s refinery initiative gives the group the illusion of being a partner in the regulatory process. It allows the group to falsely portray itself as an authority on refinery operations to the public and allows the group to manipulate data to further its own agenda with the public and the regulatory agencies like OSHA and the EPA.
Former Peace Corps volunteer Anne Rolfes founded LABB in 2000 to train citizens to collect air samples “using a low-cost, EPA-approved plastic bucket,” according to their 2001 IRS tax return, targeting people living on the perimeter of Louisiana refineries.
The group lists many funding sources, including the Ben & Jerry’s Foundation, the Sierra Club and the EPA. And over the years LABB has increasingly become funded through taxpayer dollars.
LABB has increasingly begun to tailor its activities to match the EPA’s Environmental Justice Program, a source of grants in the past and likely the future, according to the report.
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Editor's Note: One would hope that the next President would take action to not only reign in the authority of the EPA, but all regulatory agencies so that they actually serve the public good and not the bidding of special interest groups.
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