JUST IN: House Democrats Just Launched A New Probe

Submitted by MAGA Student

Posted 6 days ago

House Democrats have reportedly launched a new probe into top EPA Officials and their ties to a utilities group.

As reported by politico.com
The House Energy and Commerce Committee is launching an investigation into whether top EPA officials violated ethics rules by launching a rollback of air pollution regulations that benefited their former lobbying clients in the electric utility sector.

The committee's Democrats are seeking to probe communications between the utilities and an industry group that was run from the offices of the lobbying firm Hunton Andrews Kurth, which had employed Bill Wehrum, EPA's air chief, and David Harlow, the EPA air office's senior counsel. That industry organization, the Utility Air Regulatory Group, generated $8.2 million in 2017 alone for the lobbying firm and raised questions about whether Wehrum's involvement with it followed ethics guidelines, as first reported by POLITICO.

"[W]e are deeply troubled by several reports of allegedly unethical behavior by EPA officials," Chairman Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), subcommittee chairs Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) and Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.) wrote in letters that were sent Thursday to Hunton and eight utilities.

The lawmakers are seeking communications between the power companies and Hunton with EPA officials and to clarify their relationship to UARG. And the lawmakers are looking at whether Wehrum and Harlow worked on a December 2017 EPA policy memo that benefited one of their former clients, Michigan utility company DTE Energy. Democrats have separately asked the EPA Office of Inspector General to investigate that matter for a possible ethics violation.

"These allegations have raised substantial questions regarding whether Mr. Wehrum and Mr. Harlow are properly carrying out the [Clean Air Act] as directed by Congress or instead changing Agency policies and programs to benefit former clients, who are also clients of your law firm," the lawmakers wrote to Hunton Andrew Kurth managing partner Wendell Taylor.

POLITICO in February reported that Wehrum continued to hold meetings for UARG while working at Hunton even as he was being considered for his job at EPA. A June 2017 meeting at Hunton's office, which Wehrum attended, included a UARG proposed budget and policy blueprint that laid out many of the regulatory changes the group sought — and which resembles the policy moves that Wehrum is now overseeing at EPA. Those documents, first obtained by POLITICO, listed UARG member companies and the fees they were to pay Hunton for UARG dues.

Since becoming EPA's assistant administrator for Air and Radiation, Wehrum has moved aggressively to undo regulations related to climate change, smog and mercury emissions that many coal-burning utilities have long opposed.

Wehrum has maintained that his client was UARG, not the utilities that made up its membership. At EPA, he has recused himself from participating in "particular matters" involving UARG.

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