Senators Push To Reinstate Ombudsman Position

Washington, D.C. -- Senators, including Arlen Specter, R-Pa., and Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, are urging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to reinstate the ombudsman's position within the agency after Robert Martin quit in April.

Sen. Crapo has proposed a bill that would re-establish the ombudsman's office as an independent advocate with subpoena power, answering only to Congress. Sen. Specter challenged the reasons why Martin quit, stating that he was "ousted because the bureaucracy of the EPA did not like what he was doing and it was retribution," according to an Associated Press report.

The ombudsman's office was once an independent agency within the EPA but recently was moved to the Office of Inspector General (OIG). EPA Inspector General Nikki Tinsley told the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee that the move to OIG made sense because her staff already conducts investigations and has more resources to do the job.

The ombudsman's primary job is to act as a watchdog for the EPA and handle citizens' complaints.