Thursday, September 14, 2006

Bush Declares Eco-Whistleblower Law Void for EPA Employees

Stealth Repeal of Clean Water Act Protections by Invoking "Sovereign Immunity"

The Bush administration has declared itself immune from whistleblower protections for federal workers under the Clean Water Act, according to legal documents released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). As a result of an opinion issued by a unit within the Office of the Attorney General, federal workers will have little protection from official retaliation for reporting water pollution enforcement breakdowns, manipulations of science or cleanup failures.

Citing an "unpublished opinion of the [Attorney General's] Office of Legal Counsel," the Secretary of Labor's Administrative Review Board has ruled federal employees may no longer pursue whistleblower claims under the Clean Water Act. The opinion invoked the ancient doctrine of sovereign immunity which is based on the old English legal maxim that "The King Can Do No Wrong." It is an absolute defense to any legal action unless the "sovereign" consents to be sued.

The opinion and the ruling reverse nearly two decades of precedent. Approximately 170,000 federal employees working within environmental agencies are affected by the loss of whistleblower rights.


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