"Founder Co Founder Agreement"
May 19, 2009 The Honorable Eddie Bernice-Johnson U.S. House of Representatives Washington DC 20515 Sent via fax: Dear Congresswoman Johnson: We have grave concerns about the possibility that John Hall might be considered to be the Regional Administrator for EPA Region VI. The Austin American Statesman reported on May 1, 2009 that Mr. Hall was a potential nominee for this position. There are a growing number of Texas organizations that are prepared to publicly and vigorously oppose his selection. In our view, he represents the very problem of industry lobbyists – often coming out of a revolving door of being a regulator – having an undue and often corrupting influence over policy-making. He is someone that has gone through the revolving door once already. He left as Chairman of the state environmental agency, at the time known as the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission, after an extremely controversial permit was issued to Waste Management for a landfill in Ferris. Upon leaving, Mr. Hall immediately started his own public affairs firm. Waste Management became a client, and he continued to lobby for Waste Management until 2008. Over the years, he has represented an array of oil, petrochemical and electric utility clients, such as the Association of Electric Companies of Texas, Inc., BASF, Chevron U.S.A. Inc., Diamond Shamrock Refining & Marketing, Exxon Mobil, Fina Oil & Chemical Co., Total Petrochemicals, TXU Services and Worldwide Wastewater, Inc. On the very first day of his Administration, President Obama issued his Executive Order regarding Ethics Commitment by Executive Branch Personnel1. This widely heralded Executive Order set a high bar to stem the corrosive impact of putting lobbyists in charge of regulatory agencies they once lobbied for paying clients. We believe that John Hall’s appointment should be unthinkable given this Executive Order. He has represented so many polluters that he would have extensive conflicts of interests. John Hall should not be sent through the revolving door again into the Regional Administrator position for EPA Region VI. A recent and most disturbing revelation is Mr. Hall’s connection to an on-going scandal involving the Pedernales Electric Cooperative (PEC) in the Texas Hill Country. In a December 21, 2008 Austin American Statesman article, Mr. Hall is identified as one of nine “Third Party Service Providers” who was generously paid for unspecified services, more than $750,000 in Mr. Hall’s case. The report by Navigant, an outside firm to investigate wrongdoing at PEC, discussed Mr. Hall’s dealings with PEC as follows: “John Hall Public Affairs received payments from PEC since at least 1998 and was compensated via a monthly retainer through 2007. John Hall Public Affairs was a consulting firm solely owned by Mr. John Hall…Based on the hard-copy and electronic information reviewed, as well as 1 http://www.whitehouse.gov/the_press_office/ExecutiveOrder-EthicsCommitments/ interviews conducted during the investigation, we were unable to determine what specific services, if any, Mr. Hall has provided to PEC over the past ten years. In addition, we have not identified a contract or agreement with Mr. Hall that further defined his role or relationship with PEC. We were not successful in contacting Mr. Hall to make further inquiry regarding the nature of his services to PEC. Mr. Hall received a monthly $6,000 retainer payment and out-of-pocket expenses during the period 1998 – 2007 for a total of $771,235. Mr. Hall submitted monthly invoices to PEC for payment of his retainer and out-of-pocket expenses. The invoices did not include detailed information about the services provided or the time spent by Mr. Hall on PEC related matters, nor did the invoices itemize the expenses incurred by Mr. Hall. Based on discussions with PEC Directors and other personnel, it appears that the Directors and PEC personnel were unaware of the services that Mr. Hall was providing to PEC during this time period and that he was receiving a monthly retainer payment. However, the monthly retainer payments to Mr. Hall were listed in the Board package each month in the section listing checks over $1,000. Mr. Hall’s relationship with PEC was terminated by Mr. Garza in April 2008.”2 There is an on-going grand jury investigation of PEC that is being overseen by the Texas Attorney General’s Office. The Regional Administrator for the five-state region with some of the country’s – indeed the world’s – largest petrochemical complexes and other greenhouse gas emitters is a crucial position in the federal government. The Texas Gulf Coast and the state of Louisiana have many air pollution hotspots and high rates of cancer, hence the area named “Cancer Alley.” The people of this region and this country need a bold leader in this position – not a person, such as John Hall, with so many conflicts of interest and a recent history of working for the polluters whose actions are causing harm to so many communities. We urge you to consider other qualified individuals who have demonstrated a commitment to environmental protection and the public health. We are certain there are others that would have the qualifications and integrity needed at this time for this position and would welcome the opportunity to work with you to identify good candidates. Sincerely, Robin Schneider Executive Director Texas Campaign for the Environment Brigid Shea Former Austin City Councilmember Co-founder, Carbon Shrinks John Watson Co-founder and Steering Committee pec4u.org Luke Metzger Director Environment Texas 2 http://www.pec.coop/Documents/NavigantInvestigationReport.pdf Hilton Kelley Executive Director Community In-power and Development Association Port Arthur TX David Foster Texas State Program Director Clean Water Action