A regional administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), hired by scandal-plagued former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, has resigned after getting indicted earlier this month on violations of Alabama ethics laws.
The state ethics charges against Trey Glenn relate to his alleged efforts — prior to becoming head of the EPA’s Region 4 office — to stop a polluted neighborhood in North Birmingham, Alabama, from being listed on the EPA’s priorities list for contaminated sites.
By getting added to the priorities list, the site could have increased clean-up costs for Drummond Company, a politically influential Alabama-based coal company, which had been cited as partly responsible for the contamination.
After the EPA began investigating the neighborhood for potential listing on the national priorities list in 2013, Drummond — through its law firm Balch & Bingham — hired a company run by Glenn and business colleague Scott Phillips as consultants to assist in efforts to defeat the proposed listing of the Superfund site.
The Region 4 office oversees the EPA’s operations in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee.
The indictments center around previous work the two performed as consultants to stop the 35th Avenue site from being listed on the EPA’s Superfund National Priorities List (NPL), according to AL.com. Glenn previously served as the director of the Alabama Department of Environmental Management.
Starting in 2013, the EPA was investigating the neighborhood for potential listing on the NPL to receive priority funding for Superfund cleanup of contaminated soil in poor residential neighborhoods largely populated by African Americans surrounded by numerous heavy industrial operations.
Glenn was booked at the Jefferson County Jail last Thursday in Birmingham and later released on a $30,000 bond.
Glenn submitted his letter of resignation dated Nov. 18 to Wheeler. According to AL.com, Glenn referred to the ethics charges as “unfounded charges levied against me that I must and will fight.”
“Stepping down now, I hope removes any distraction from you and all the great people who work at EPA as you carry out the Agency’s mission,” Glenn wrote to Wheeler in the resignation letter, which was provided to AL.com.
As part of the bribery scandal, Drummond Vice President David Roberson and Balch & Bingham attorney Joel Gilbert were previously convicted of bribery, money laundering, and other charges in relation to efforts to oppose the listing, which included paying a state lawmaker — former Alabama state Rep. Oliver Robinson (D) — to encourage people not to get their soil tested to see if it contained high levels of contaminants.
Upon Glenn’s resignation, the EPA named Mary Walker, the deputy chief for agency’s Region 4, as acting regional administrator. Walker has been second in command for EPA’s Southeast office since June. Prior to that, she was director of the region’s water protection division, E&E News reported Monday.
Walker has Wheeler’s “full confidence,” Jackson said in his email to EPA employees.