Senators Call For Investigation Into EPA’s Use Of ‘Armed Intimidation Tactics’

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Back in August, the Environmental Protection Agency drew harsh criticism from State officials for orchestrating a heavy-handed SWAT-type raid to investigate an innocuous allegation that a mining company might be violating the Clean Water Act.

Now a small number of conservative Senators want to launch an investigation of their own into why the EPA would use such heavy-handed tactics without a shred of evidence their enforcement team would encounter any civilian hostility.

Senator David Vitter (R-La.), the ranking member on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder Tuesday calling on the Department of Justice to investigate the August raid of the tiny mining outpost in Chicken, Alaska. That raid — a joint operation of the EPA, FBI, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, Coast Guard, NOAA and U.S. Park Service — was strongly condemned at the time by Governor Sean Parnell, Alaska’s Congressional delegation and even the Division of Alaska State Troopers.

Here’s Vitter’s letter, in its entirety:

Dear Attorney General Holder:

I write to request that the Department of Justice (DOJ) examine whether Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) law enforcement agents are conducting criminal investigations in accordance with guidelines approved by the Attorney General. Recent events in Alaska suggest that EPA agents may be abusing their discretion during criminal investigations, perhaps encouraging excessive intimidation, and I am concerned that EPA is reluctant to address this serious issue. DOJ’s input would be useful in my evaluation of EPA’s law enforcement tactics, particularly when raiding small businesses.

As you may be aware, EPA and other state and federal agencies conducted an armed raid this past August against small operation miners in Alaska. According to several news outlets, EPA needlessly intimidated the miners while investigating supposed Clean Water Act violations, going so far as to wear full body armor and carry guns in confronting the surprised miners.

EPA’s extreme show of force is counterproductive, and the agency’s inadequate response to questions regarding the armed raid leads me to request DOJ’s investigation. For example, EPA defended its actions by claiming that EPA law enforcement agents are “required to carry firearms to safely and effectively perform their responsibilities,” and that environmental law enforcement “always involves the potential for physical, or even armed confrontation.” However, EPA appears not to appreciate the latitude provided when deciding to utilize armed officers, as the relevant authorizing statute makes clear that the carrying of firearms is a discretionary option for EPA agents, not a categorical requirement.   Congress thus recognized that environmental law enforcement can be safely accomplished in many instances without the use of firearms, and that there exists no mandate to intentionally intimidate.

Further, although EPA has apparently claimed the agents were armed in response to human and drug trafficking concerns raised by the Alaska State Troopers, the Troopers have expressly denied this account. This discrepancy has yet to be explained by EPA, and it raises the question from which environmental statute the agency derives enforcement authority in human and drug trafficking issues.

Indeed, as one commentator has put it, “EPA refuses to explain why it chose its Enforcement Task Force to do what were basically compliance checks of . . . mines.” Because EPA refuses to explain its actions, and noting that federal law requires EPA to perform its criminal enforcement activities in accordance with guidelines approved by the Attorney General, I ask that DOJ investigate this particular incident and the broader circumstances of what should have been routine compliance checks. In conjunction with this request, please provide responses to the following inquiries no later than November 29, 2013:

1) Concerning the armed raid in Alaska discussed above, please investigate and provide details on the exact circumstances which led to EPA’s decision to utilize the enhanced tactics. Please also specify the alleged Clean Water Act violations that EPA agents were investigating, as well as the basis for EPA’s belief that Clean Water Act violations had occurred.

2) Does DOJ have procedures or review mechanisms in place to ensure that EPA decisions to utilize armed enforcement agents are conducted in accordance with EPA guidelines? If so, please specify. Please also provide any DOJ analyses, memoranda, or other information from the past ten years regarding EPA’s compliance with these guidelines.

3) Again concerning the armed raid in Alaska discussed above, did EPA arm its agents in accordance with the latest version of agency firearms guidelines approved by the Attorney General? If yes, please explain the steps EPA took to ensure compliance with the guidelines. If no, please explain how EPA failed to ensure compliance with the guidelines.

4) Federal law also provides that only those EPA law enforcement officers “with responsibility for the investigation of criminal violations of a law administered by the [EPA]” may carry firearms. Does EPA have the responsibility to administer any drug trafficking or human trafficking laws?

5) EPA has stated that “[e]nvironmental law enforcement, like other forms of law enforcement, always involves the potential for physical, even armed, confrontation.” Is it DOJ’s position that environmental law enforcement equates to other forms of federal law enforcement, such as border patrol, terrorism activities, and drug trafficking?

6) Federal law requires that EPA agents conduct certain criminal investigations “in accordance with guidelines approved by the Attorney General.” In a 2009 law review article, a DOJ attorney wrote that EPA’s guidelines “were approved by the Attorney General on June 26, 1989.” Please provide a copy of EPA’s 1989 guidelines as well as any Attorney General correspondence approving the guidelines. Please also provide any subsequent versions of the guidelines.

If you have questions regarding the requests, please feel free to have your staff contact the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works at 202-224-6176. Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.

Sincerely,

David Vitter

Ranking Member

Senate Environment and Public Works Committee

So far, DOJ hasn’t issued a response.

Personal Liberty

Ben Bullard

Reconciling the concept of individual sovereignty with conscientious participation in the modern American political process is a continuing preoccupation for staff writer Ben Bullard. A former community newspaper writer, Bullard has closely observed the manner in which well-meaning small-town politicians and policy makers often accept, unthinkingly, their increasingly marginal role in shaping the quality of their own lives, as well as those of the people whom they serve. He argues that American public policy is plagued by inscrutable and corrupt motives on a national scale, a fundamental problem which individuals, families and communities must strive to solve. This, he argues, can be achieved only as Americans rediscover the principal role each citizen plays in enriching the welfare of our Republic.

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  • Angrymike

    Ya, like having Holder investigating another arm of the Obama Gestapo is gonna work, they’ll come back with a clean bill of health if the investigation even gets off the ground……….

  • FreedomFighter

    “why the EPA would use such heavy-handed tactics without a shred of evidence their enforcement team would encounter any civilian hostility.”
    Its all to create an atmosphere of fear, don’t want to follow our regulations, you get a bullet. Its the totalitarian government communist way. Its also in preparation for taking private property, thru regulation, you cant own property in a communist state.
    Laus DeoSemper FI

    • Vis Fac

      I was very young when we fled Germany in the early 40’s I remember terror in peoples eyes when the gestapo marched into nearby hamlets extracting people from their homes and were shot on the spot. Such images witnessed by a small child lasts a lifetime.

      The way things are “progressing” purposely used for all the “progressives” amongst us we are headed for just such an ordeal once full control is achieved you can count on the government sending extermination squads to rid them of problem people AKA Tea Party members and anyone not in agreement with government

      I’ve witnessed this first hand and will resist with every fiber of my being. I can hear you liberals doing your LOL’s and snickering saying it’ll never happen here. All I have to say is at one time they said man would never set foot on the moon that came to pass so be careful what you wish for you just might get it!!

      You don’t have to be a Marine to make a difference the only requirement is being truly patriotic and the willingness to back it up!!!

      Libertas inaestimabilis res est
      Semper-Fi

  • Liz

    When are the Conservatives in this Administration going to wake up and start demanding. That old adage of ” you get more with honey than vinegar” doesn’t work with any of O’Bama’s point men. They see this as weakness and laugh at Conservatives after they have berated them.

  • dan

    it bears repeating ;

    “And how we burned in the camps later, thinking: What would things have been like if every Security operative, when he went out at night to make an arrest, had been uncertain whether he would return alive and had to say good-bye to his family? Or if, during periods of mass arrests, as for example in Leningrad, when they arrested a quarter of the entire city, people had not simply sat there in their lairs, paling with terror at every bang of the downstairs door and at every step on the staircase, but had understood they had nothing left to lose and had boldly set up in the downstairs hall an ambush of half a dozen people with axes, hammers, pokers, or whatever else was at hand?… The Organs would very quickly have suffered a shortage of officers and transport and, notwithstanding all of Stalin’s thirst, the cursed machine would have ground to a halt! If…if…We didn’t love freedom enough. And even more – we had no awareness of the real situation…. We purely and simply deserved everything that happened afterward.”

    ― Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

  • jdn

    At the rate wee are going soon all police and government actions will be SWAT actions . If people have not figured it out yet they will soon enough , WE ARE AT WAR , and losing badly .

  • squeeze127

    Aren’t the EPA part of all that ammo the government ordered? Looking like the EPA is now another law enforcement agency.

    • IBCAMN

      yep!look back at obama’s speech about having an internal army,armed and trained like the military!obama said this himself as a part of his campaign speeches to keep this country safe,it’s for our protection!

      • squeeze127

        Just look at all the Generals and Admirals forced into retirement! He wants absolute obedience in his commanders. When he turns on the American people, he wants results, not talk! All that hollow point ammo ain’t for huntin’ deer!

        • http://www.thefreedomtrainusa.com/ FreedomTrainUSA

          He is following the Script that Hitler and Nazi Germany used….The Military Channel has had some very good shows on Hitler and the Nazi Germany…leading up to and during WWII….When you watch these shows…The parallel us Frightening as to what the “Little Boy Dictator and his Regime are doing in this country…

          • squeeze127

            I do believe you are correct on that comparison, what I’m hoping and praying for is this ACA will be his “Waterloo.” This is maybe the last step to finally get the ball rolling to socialism. That I think, is why he has been soooo adamant in pushing this into play without regard to it’s consequences. That is what his legacy will reflect, Obama was THE ONE to convert America into a socialistic government! That will assure his narcissistic highness of a place in history forever!

          • http://www.thefreedomtrainusa.com/ FreedomTrainUSA

            In the end TRUTH Always Wins out over LIES….This Train Wreck is just one massive lie and distortion…as is everything that the “Little Boy Dictator and his Rogue Regime and all of their Co-Conspirators in Congress have done….A time is coming when these Lies and Distortions of the REAL TRUTH….will be exposed as such and come out in the open….At that time just as with Hitler and every other dictator in history…..THEIR FABRICATED KINGDOM WILL COLLAPSE IN A HEAP OF RUBBLE…

          • squeeze127

            Again, you are on point! The issue is that Cruz and Lee and all those with them are the guys with white hats, they are being painted as black hats, and the LIV has no idea what is going on! This is where the ACA is going to fail, if it does fail. The LIV will realize that this man speaks lies and will start to look a little closer. Those 5 or 6 Dems that are wavering on whether to delay the deployment date gives me hope there will be success in our endeavor.

      • http://www.thefreedomtrainusa.com/ FreedomTrainUSA

        He is creating his version Of SS Squads by setting up and Armed Division of every single agency…

    • http://www.thefreedomtrainusa.com/ FreedomTrainUSA

      EPA IS just another part of the “Little Boy Dictator’s” CIVILIAN SS SQUADS…

    • Doc Sarvis

      Ever since Nixon created the EPA it has been a law enforcement agency.

      • Robert Messmer

        Yep for Environmental Laws, not drugs (DEA), not human smuggling (ICE) and I am quite sure that way back then there was no SWAT team with the EPA.

      • ChiefBoring

        Doc, it was and has been a REGULATORY agency, not a LAW ENFORCEMENT agency. There is a difference. And yes, we all know it was one of Nixon’s mistakes, but Carter gets the (dis)credit for Education and Energy

        • http://www.thefreedomtrainusa.com/ FreedomTrainUSA

          When Carter added to Department of Public Indoctrination is when the NEA and DPI merged so that the Unions got full control to spread their LIBERAL PROPAGANDA….
          As far as the Department of Energy….It should be called the DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY DESTRUCTION…

          • ChiefBoring

            No argument here.

            Subject: Re: New comment posted on Senators Call For Investigation Into EPA’s Use Of ‘Armed Intimidation Tactics’

    • Vis Fac

      Watch out EPA lead ammunition is toxic and dangerous The PRCM and governor moonbeam have just outlawed lead ammunition sales in COMMIEFORNIA

      You don’t have to be a Marine to make a difference the only requirement is being truly patriotic and the willingness to back it up!!!

      Libertas inaestimabilis res est
      Semper-Fi

      • squeeze127

        My M-1911 will take the fight out of anyone it touches! I took an oath and obligation when I went to ‘Nam. Once a soldier, Always a soldier!!! I will defend our Constitution from all enemies, foreign and domestic.

        • Vis Fac

          OOH RAH!! got to love the old 1911 one of the best attitude adjustment tools made.

          To sit back hoping that someday, some way, someone
          will make things right is to go on feeding the crocodile, hoping he will eat you last – but eat you he will.

          Libertas inaestimabilis res est
          Semper-Fi

          • squeeze127

            Agreed Brother!

  • IBCAMN

    yep,and pretty soon they will use these tactics to deliver certified letters and court papers(summons)to your doorstep just in case you decide to not accept the letter!(this would be a branch of the mattress police)this crap is getting out of hand,it’s all about controlling us so we bend to their will!

  • http://www.thefreedomtrainusa.com/ FreedomTrainUSA

    It will be another USELESS investigation used as cover for LOOK WHAT WE HAVE DONE…..

    • Vis Fac

      Tantamount to having Holder investigating himself for the Fast and Furious debacle.

      You don’t have to be a Marine to make a difference the only requirement is being truly patriotic and the willingness to back it up!!!

      Libertas inaestimabilis res est
      Semper-Fi

      • http://www.thefreedomtrainusa.com/ FreedomTrainUSA

        Or the “Little Boy Dictator….Investigating his action in Bengazhi….

        • Vis Fac

          Seems as though there are several of them. Shall be pull a name out of the hat?

          You don’t have to be a Marine to make a difference the only requirement is being truly patriotic and the willingness to back it up!!!

          Libertas inaestimabilis res est
          Semper-Fi

          • http://www.thefreedomtrainusa.com/ FreedomTrainUSA

            The number of Criminal Acts by the “Little Boy Dictator” and his Regime of Thugs….is EVERYTHING THAT THEY DO…

          • Vis Fac

            YUP!!!

            You don’t have to be a Marine to make a difference the only requirement is being truly patriotic and the willingness to back it up!!!

            Libertas inaestimabilis res est
            Semper-Fi

  • Bill

    Eliminate the EPA

    • Doc Sarvis

      Yes, let us pollute our air, water, and lands freely – causing poison and death to plants and animals (including US). Great idea.

      • Vis Fac

        While China Russia Japan and 90% of the worlds nation pollute thousands of times more than we? Who are you kidding there is no Easter Bunny Tooth Fairy Santa Claus or an effective and necessary EPA. The EPA is a pipe dream or a fanatical liberal that drains funds and like all other government agency wants to act the tough guy.

        You don’t have to be a Marine to make a difference the only requirement is being truly patriotic and the willingness to back it up!!!

        Libertas inaestimabilis res est
        Semper-Fi

      • Michael Countryman

        Shut your fat mouth you yuppy. You and your snot nosed liberal prick friends don’t know the first thing about domestic energy so shut your goddam trap already. The EPA never had a legitimate purpose, all it ever did was over-regulate and kill American jobs.

        • http://www.thefreedomtrainusa.com/ FreedomTrainUSA

          I have found that the best way to agrivate these Liberal BOTS that show up on these sites is to throw every stupid remark and insult back at them…When they attack you….use it as a way to tell them that they just described themselves….and watch them get angry and become even more STUPID….or as I just told “Little Jeffy” when he said that I have the IQ one point lower than a Gerainum…..I REPLIED BACK TO HIM….I am glad you told me that your IQ is one point lower than a geranium…so that I now know at what level to attempt talk to him at…

  • Alan

    I see absolutely no need for EPA to have these gestapo like swat teams. If they feel an enforcement action is going to present danger, let them get a local law enforcement agency to go with them.

    • http://www.thefreedomtrainusa.com/ FreedomTrainUSA

      ‘They are just one of many parts of the “Little Boy Dictator’s”…SS Squads