Does EPA Need Guns, Ammo And Armor To Protect The Environment?


10/08/2015 05:51 PM ET

The Environmental Protection Agency spent millions of dollars over the last decade on guns, ammo, body armor, camouflage equipment, unmanned aircraft, amphibious assault ships, radar and night-vision gear and other military-style weaponry and surveillance activities, according to a new report by the watchdog group Open the Books.
The report raises questions about why EPA’s enforcement division employs well-armed “special agents” who appear to be conducting SWAT-type operations on American businesses and households it suspects of wrongdoing.
Illinois-based Open the Books scanned tens of thousands of checks written by the EPA and totaling more than $93 billion from 2000 to 2014.
The audit discovered hundreds of millions of dollars of questionable expenses, including high-end luxury furnishings, sports equipment and “environmental justice” grants to raise awareness of global warming.
It also revealed that seven of 10 EPA workers make more than $100,000 a year and that more than 12,000 of its nearly 16,000 employees were given bonuses last year despite agency budgets that were supposed to be constrained by budget caps and sequester cuts.
EPA’s $8 billion budget also found room for more than 1,000 attorneys, which would make the agency one of the largest law firms in the nation.
And more than $50 million of EPA funds since 2000 went to international organizations — dollars that flowed to countries such as China and Mexico. These activities appear to have little or no connection to the EPA mandate of safeguarding the air and water here in the U.S.
But the eye-grabber in the report is the agency’s ongoing military-type purchases. Some $75 million is authorized each year for criminal enforcement, including money for a small militia of 200 “special agents” that appear to be snooping on industry and preparing to use deadly force to enforce EPA edicts.
“We were shocked ourselves to find these kind of pervasive expenditures at an agency that is supposed to be involved in clean air and clean water,” said Open the Books’ founder, Adam Andrzejewski. “Some of these weapons are for full-scale military operations.”
Those who keep an eye on the agency have also been stunned by such outlays. “EPA has always been primarily an agency that is involved in analysis and regulation. Even its enforcement arm is mainly involved in litigation,” notes Marlo Lewis, who covers environmental issues for the Competitive Enterprise Institute.
“Since when did we start going down this road of allowing agencies of government to engage in military-style operations?”