The Environmental Protection Agency’s second-in-command will be leaving the agency to head up an environmental group specializing in green energy and global warming policy. The move comes after about two years of scandals and controversies that mired the EPA’s reputation.
EPA Deputy Administrator Bob Perciasepe announced Thursday that he would be leaving the agency to become the president of the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES) — the successor to the Pew Center on Global Climate Change.
“I’m honored and excited to be taking the helm of an organization that’s done so much to build common ground for practical climate and energy solutions,” Perciasepe said in a statement.
“Throughout my career, I’ve worked to bring diverse interests together to protect both our environment and our economy,” he added. “I’m eager to continue that work at C2ES at such a critical time, when we have both the opportunity and obligation to forge lasting climate solutions.”
Perciasepe has been the EPA’s No. 2 since 2009, during a time when the agency was moving ahead with an aggressive regulatory agenda to cut coal usage and limit U.S. carbon dioxide emissions to fight global warming.
“Bob Perciasepe is a proven leader with the experience and expertise to make C2ES an even stronger force for sensible climate and energy solutions,” said C2ES Chairman Theodore Roosevelt IV, who is a managing director at Barclays. “He’s exactly the sort of bridge builder we need to effectively engage government, business, individuals, and a wide range of stakeholders, all of whom must work together to find common-sense solutions.”
Despite the policy victories for the EPA under the Obama administration, the past two years have not been good to the agency. In 2012, it was discovered that former EPA Chief Administrator Lisa Jackson was using a secret email account under the alias “Richard Windsor.”
The EPA said the alias email name was for agency internal communication, since the chief administrator’s public account gets flooded with emails everyday. But it was later reported that Jackson was also using that email address to correspond with environmental activists and White House staff.
It wasn’t long after the discovery of Jackson’s secret email account that reports began circulating about other top EPA officials using private email accounts to conduct official business, including Perciasepe.
“Now we know that Lisa Jackson’s acting replacement, Bob Perciasepe, appears to have been doing the same thing to dodge the agency’s mandatory record-keeping policy,” Louisiana Republican Sen. David Vitter said in a statement in 2013. “EPA owes us all some answers about their absolute disregard for transparency, especially from their acting administrator or any potential nominee to be administrator.”
Last year, publicly released emails showed Perciasepe was using a private “perciasepe.org” emails account to conduct official business, leading lawmakers to believe that he and other top agency officials were using these email accounts to skirt transparency laws.
“The sad fact is I was not all that surprised to find that address,” said Competitive Enterprise Institute senior fellow Chris Horner, whose work uncovered the secret email accounts of top EPA officials. “This crowd has moved government — often activities they prefer not receive scrutiny — over to private email, private computers and even privately owned and managed computer servers.”
The EPA emails scandal sparked House and Senate investigations into the agency’s email records practices to see just how deep the problem went. The political heat has died down since last year, but Perciasepe’s secret email accounts are still being sought by government watchdog groups.
Horner filed a government records request earlier this month to get the EPA to release emails sent to and from non-public email accounts from Perciasepe and EPA Chief Gina McCarthy. But Horner says that the agency is putting up hurdles and stalling on releasing the emails, likely as a stalling tactic.
Instead of releasing records, the EPA has “elected to provide a facially unreasonable claim that CEI failed to adequately describe the records sought,” according to Horner’s latest Freedom of Information Act request.
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