As first reported by the Chicago Tribune, Mary Gade resigned from her position as the Midwest regional administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency on May 1 amid an ongoing dispute with Dow Chemical over dioxin pollution from its Midland, Michigan headquarters. Gade told the Tribune that "There's no question this is about Dow."
The Wonk Room has extensively reported on her resignation and compared it to the politicized firings of U.S. Attorneys under Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.
Today, Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) have sent a letter to EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson:
We are writing to request from you full information of the circumstances surrounding Ms. Gade's departure. As you know, Congress and the American people expect EPA to enforce vigorously our public health protections — and to preserve the integrity of the enforcement program by excluding politics from such activities. We are troubled by reports suggesting that there was a link between her efforts to assure an aggressive cleanup by Dow and her allegedly forced departure, and are seeking answers from you to key questions.
Boxer and Whitehouse serve on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and have oversight of the EPA. They have requested answers to their questions and all related documents "no later than May 27, 2008."
Administrator Johnson, now mired in scandal, has refused to appear before Congress for over a month. In April he went to Australia. Upon his return he found himself unable to testify, due to "ongoing back issues."
The EPA currently is refusing to honor multiple subpoenas for other documents.
Read the full letter below:
May 13, 2008
The Honorable Stephen Johnson
Environmental Protection Agency
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20460
Dear Administrator Johnson:
As Members of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works ("the Committee"), we are writing to request information about the allegedly forced resignation of Mary Gade as the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Region 5 Administrator. News outlets have reported that individuals in your office forced Ms. Gade to resign after she decided to protect public health by forcing the Dow Chemical Corporation to clean up a heavily-contaminated Superfund site.
We are writing to request from you full information of the circumstances surrounding Ms. Gade's departure. As you know, Congress and the American people expect EPA to enforce vigorously our public health protections – and to preserve the integrity of the enforcement program by excluding politics from such activities. We are troubled by reports suggesting that there was a link between her efforts to assure an aggressive cleanup by Dow and her allegedly forced departure, and are seeking answers from you to key questions.
A May 2 story in the Chicago Tribune states that Ms. Gade:
has been locked in a heated dispute with Dow about long-delayed plans to clean up dioxin-saturated soil and sediment that extends 50 miles beyond its Midland, Mich., plant into Saginaw Bay and Lake Huron. The company dumped the highly toxic and persistent chemical into local rivers for most of the last century.
The news report also states that Ms. Gade:
invoked emergency powers last summer to order the company to remove three hotspots of dioxin near its Midland headquarters. She demanded more dredging in November, when it was revealed that dioxin levels along a park in Saginaw were 1.6 million parts per trillion, the highest amount ever found in the U.S. Dow then sought to cut a deal on a more comprehensive cleanup. But Gade ended the negotiations in January, saying Dow was refusing to take action necessary to protect public health and wildlife. Dow responded by appealing to officials in Washington....
The article says that Ms. Gade:
drew fire from officials in Washington after she sent contractors to test soil in a Saginaw neighborhood where Dow had found high dioxin levels. The levels in one Saginaw yard were nearly six times higher than the federal cleanup standard, and 65 times higher than what Michigan considers acceptable.
According to media reports, she received "high marks" from EPA officials in her last performance review. However, we are also aware of more recent suggestions that there may have been other circumstances that contributed to her leaving; we are seeking answers to get to the bottom of this issue.
Against the backdrop of allegations of political intervention in EPA decision-making that have been aired at recent hearings before this Committee, as well as similar allegations that we have heard from EPA staff and seen widely reported in the media, it is important for there to be a full explanation of the circumstances surrounding Ms. Gade's allegedly forced resignation. Under the Committee's due and proper authority to inquire and investigate into the administration of environmental laws, we ask that you furnish responses to the following questions (attached) no later than May 23, 2008, unless otherwise noted. If you have any questions, please contact Carlos Angulo or Brad Crowell with Senator Whitehouse at (202) 224-2921, or Erik Olson or Grant Cope with the Committee, (202) 224-8832.
Sincerely, Barbara Boxer Sheldon Whitehouse
Chairman United States Senator
What is Ms. Gade's current status at EPA? How long will she stay in that status?
Was Ms. Gade asked or encouraged to resign, or told that if she did not resign by a date certain that she would be terminated? What exactly was she told?
If Ms. Gade was asked or encouraged to resign, please provide the names and titles of each individual who communicated to Ms. Gade the Agency's position that she would be asked or encouraged to resign, and if a date certain was provided by which she was asked or encouraged to resign, what was that date?
What was the basis for EPA's decision to ask or encourage Ms. Gade to resign?
What basis for EPA's decision was given to Ms. Gade?
Did you yourself approve or discuss any decision to ask for or encourage Ms. Gade's resignation? If so, what were the circumstances giving rise to your involvement, and what were the reasons for your decision or views on this matter?
Who else at EPA agreed to or was aware of the Agency's decision to ask or encourage Ms. Gade to resign?
Did anyone from the White House have any involvement in the decision to ask or encourage Ms. Gade's resignation? If so, who, and what were the circumstances surrounding that involvement?
When was the White House informed of the decision to ask for or encourage Ms. Gade's resignation?
Did you or anyone at EPA discuss the possibility of Ms. Gade's removal, resignation, or disciplining at any time with any agent, employee or representative of Dow? If the answer to this question is yes, who participated in these discussions and when did those conversations take place?
Did you or anyone at EPA discuss the possibility of Ms. Gade's removal, resignation, or disciplining at any time with anyone from the White House? If the answer to this question is yes, who participated in these discussions and when did these conversations take place?
To your knowledge, did anyone at the White House discuss the possibility of Ms. Gade's removal, resignation, or disciplining with any agent, employee or representative of Dow? If the answer to this question is yes, who participated in these discussions and when did those discussions take place?
Please identify and describe any discussions of which you are aware between EPA officials in the Agency's Washington office(s) and any White House officials since May 15, 2007, regarding cleanup of dioxin contamination in Saginaw Bay or Lake Huron.
Please identify any discussions of which you are aware between EPA officials in the Agency's Washington office(s) and any agent, employee, or representative of Dow since May 15, 2007, regarding cleanup of dioxin contamination in Saginaw Bay or Lake Huron.
Please identify and describe any discussions of which you are aware between anyone from the White House and any agent, employee, or representative of Dow since May 15, 2007, regarding cleanup of dioxin contamination in Saginaw Bay or Lake Huron.
Who at EPA signed Ms. Gade's most recent performance evaluation? When was that evaluation delivered?
Did you review or approve Ms. Gade's most recent performance evaluation?
Please furnish us with a copy of Ms. Gade's most recent performance evaluation.
During your tenure as Administrator at EPA, please describe any other instance in which a Regional Administrator was disciplined in any way for decisions made in the discharge of his or her duties.
Please furnish us, no later than May 27, 2008, with all documents in the possession of the Agency, whether stored electronically or in hard copy, that discuss, reflect, evidence or are in any way related to your responses to questions 1-20, above.
Please furnish us, no later than May 27, 2008, with all documents (1) referencing or authored by Ms. Gade, and (2) associated with Ms. Gade's actions to enforce the clean-up of dioxin pollution associated with Dow Chemicals Co.'s Midland, Michigan plant.
Source: "Senators Demand Answers On EPA Ouster Of Mary Gade," by Brad. Think Progress. May 13th, 2008.
Now, that represents a reasonably good start at attempted discovery/investigation/oversight. The ultimate question though is when will the Congress (House and Senate) use its full authority to shutdown the illegal and unethical George W. Bush administration?
There is only one proper avenue within the mundane law and that is using the U.S. Constitution's provisions for impeachment and removal from office of the entire Bush administration. Bush and Cheney ought to be removed together and as soon as possible.
We don't know exactly what it is that Nancy Pelosi fears that will come out about her (that the Republicans have on her), but that is irrelevant as to the question of whether or not impeachment and removal should go forth post haste.
If Pelosi will be exposed by the Republican somehow as being unfit to serve as President by reason of duplicity or any other legally disqualifying reason, then so be it.
The Democrats need to take the bull by the horns and throw it over.
If they can't do that, they are unfit, weak, and cowardly and need to be replaced by those who can.
Some may think this unchristian. I say to them that Jesus outlined the steps for the body declaring souls persona non grata (in a Christian context, heathens).
The body calling itself America has reason to replace evil leadership. It is not bound by Heaven to follow evil leadership. In fact, Jesus makes it very clear that he did not follow the evil leadership attempts made toward him.
He rejected, rebuked, and exposed the devil. He did not make the mistake of thinking that God had set up the devil as the ruler of the world. Jesus rather made very clear that the devil took that upon himself by his own-overreaching authority. The devil is self-authorized and not authorized by God. The interpretations of scripture and writings that have been elevated to the level of Holy Scripture that suggest otherwise are in error and hereby summarily rejected with prejudice.
The following should appear at the end of every post:
According to the IRS, "Know the law: Avoid political campaign intervention":
Tax-exempt section 501(c)(3) organizations like churches, universities, and hospitals must follow the law regarding political campaigns. Unfortunately, some don't know the law.
Under the Internal Revenue Code, all section 501(c)(3) organizations are prohibited from participating in any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office. The prohibition applies to campaigns at the federal, state and local level.
Violation of this prohibition may result in denial or revocation of tax-exempt status and the imposition of certain excise taxes. Section 501(c)(3) private foundations are subject to additional restrictions.
Political Campaign Intervention
Political campaign intervention includes any activities that favor or oppose one or more candidates for public office. The prohibition extends beyond candidate endorsements.
Contributions to political campaign funds, public statements of support or opposition (verbal or written) made by or on behalf of an organization, and the distribution of materials prepared by others that support or oppose any candidate for public office all violate the prohibition on political campaign intervention.
Factors in determining whether a communication results in political campaign intervention include the following:
- Whether the statement identifies one or more candidates for a given public office
- Whether the statement expresses approval or disapproval of one or more candidates' positions and/or actions
- Whether the statement is delivered close in time to the election
- Whether the statement makes reference to voting or an election
- Whether the issue addressed distinguishes candidates for a given office
Many religious organizations believe, as we do, that the above constitutes a violation of the First Amendment of the US Constitution.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
That said, we make the following absolutely clear here:
- The Real Liberal Christian Church and Christian Commons Project not only do not endorse any candidate for any secular office, we say that Christianity forbids voting in such elections.
- Furthermore, when we discuss any public-office holder's position, policy, action or inaction, we definitely are not encouraging anyone to vote for that office holder's position.
- We are not trying to influence secular elections but rather want people to come out from that entire fallen system.
- When we analyze or discuss what is termed "public policy," we do it entirely from a theological standpoint with an eye to educating professing Christians and those to whom we are openly always proselytizing to convert to authentic Christianity.
- It is impossible for us to fully evangelize and proselytize without directly discussing the pros and cons of public policy and the positions of secular-office holders, hence the unconstitutionality of the IRS code on the matter.
- We are not rich and wouldn't be looking for a fight regardless. What we cannot do is compromise our faith (which seeks to harm nobody, quite the contrary).
- We render unto Caesar what is Caesar's. We render unto God what is God's.
- When Caesar says to us that unless we shut up about the unrighteousness of Caesar's policies and practices, we will lose the ability of people who donate to us to declare their donations as deductions on their federal and state income-tax returns, we say to Caesar that we cannot shut up while exercising our religion in a very reasonable way.
- We consider the IRS code on this matter as deliberate economic duress (a form of coercion) and a direct attempt by the federal government to censor dissenting, free political and religious speech.
- It's not freedom of religion if they tax it.
And when they were come to Capernaum, they that received tribute money came to Peter, and said, Doth not your master pay tribute? He saith, Yes. And when he was come into the house, Jesus prevented him, saying, What thinkest thou, Simon? of whom do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute? of their own children, or of strangers? Peter saith unto him, Of strangers. Jesus saith unto him, Then are the children free. (Matthew 17:24-26)