Time Running Out for EPA Ombudsman

Washington, D.C. -- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Ombudsman Robert Martin currently has a protective restraining order in place until April 5 against EPA officials, giving him about one month to prove his case that he should not be moved to the Inspector General's (IG) office. The restraining order was issued by a federal judge after Martin sued EPA administrator Christie Whitman to prevent the reassignment.

Martin has cried foul, arguing that moving to the IG ofice would strip him of his independence and render him powerless in enforcing environmental violations. If Martin is transferred, several watchdog groups say that the ombudsman's position, which involves solid waste and environmental practices and Superfund investigations, would be eliminated entirely.