EPA Boots a Whistleblower

The resignation of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Ombudsman Robert Martin ends his long-running battle to preserve his office and its ability to independently investigate cases where the agency mishandled Superfund sites. His resignation came on the heels of actions taken by EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman to disband his office, including sending agents to confiscate his files and his computers, and to change the locks on his office. For years, the Ombudsman has been deeply critical of numerous EPA decisions regarding the clean-up of Superfund sites across the country. Efforts to limit his independence began under the Clinton Administration and dramatically escalated under Whitman's authority. Martin says Whitman muzzled him for criticizing a sweetheart Superfund settlement with a big investor in her husband's firm. According to the New York Times, Martin's departure reflects "evident demoralization at the E.P.A.," where he has "joined a parade of officials resigning in protest."