Who Does Trey Glenn Work For?

Who Does Trey Glenn Work For?

Who Does Trey Glenn Really Work For?

Financial disclosures show the EPA Region 4 Administrator was paid at least $5,000 by Balch & Bingham for ‘Drummond/ABC Coke project’

by Michael Hansen | March 9, 2018

Yesterday I wrote a lengthy story about then-Sen. Jeff Sessions’ involvement in the corruption scandal related to the north Birmingham Superfund site. It turns out that his office was intimately involved with trying to pressure the EPA to back off cleanup efforts that Gasp has been working on for the past 7 years.

Today, I’d like to let you know about another shady piece of the puzzle. Back in August 2017, Onis “Trey” Glenn was appointed as EPA Region 4 administrator, which oversees the agency’s mission in eight states: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee. You may recall that Glenn was the director of the Alabama Department of Environmental Management from 2005–2009. His tenure as head of ADEM was controversial.

While he was pushing for the job as director of ADEM, Glenn approved invoices for engineering firm Malcolm Pirnie (which has since changed its named to Arcadis). It just so happened that at the time, Malcolm Pirnie executive Scott Phillips was chair of the Environmental Management Commission and therefore responsible for selecting the next ADEM director. In 2007, the Alabama Ethics Commission unanimously concluded that Glenn violated state ethics laws in order to get the job at ADEM, though he ultimately escaped criminal charges.

Glenn also billed his family’s private plane trip to Disney World to a PR firm — which he said he eventually paid back. It was so bad that former ADEM attorney David Ludder (who now represents Gasp on several legal matters) urged the EMC to pass a rule banning Glenn from receiving gifts from companies regulated by the agency.

Further Reading: Alabama’s environmental director Trey Glenn escapes criminal charges


Financial Disclosures

Federal agency appointees like Glenn have to file a Public Financial Disclosure Report and report any income over $5,000 in the 12 months preceding the appointment. In his filing, Glenn listed “technical consulting” work for Balch & Bingham for the “Drummond/ABC Coke project.” (Click on the image to view a PDF of Glenn’s complete filing, which was revised on Nov. 29, 2017.)

Balch & Bingham is the law firm at the heart of the corruption scandal related to the north Birmingham Superfund site. Two of the firm’s attorneys, Steve McKinney and Joel Gilbert, were indicted in September 2017 on one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States, one count of bribery, three counts of honest services wire fraud, and one count of money laundering conspiracy.

David Roberson, who was vice president of government and regulatory affairs for Drummond Company, was also indicted on the same charges.

Further Reading: Southern EPA pick Trey Glenn is downright Orwellian

On Jan. 10, 2018, I sent a letter to Trey Glenn to “respectfully request ask for further explanation” of the compensation he had received from Balch & Bingham. Below is an excerpt from the letter:

“Due to your own disclosure of connections to these two powerful companies, Balch & Bingham and Drummond Company, we believe you may have an inherent conflict of interest. The EPA’s mission is to protect human health and the environment. Your friends at Balch and Drummond allegedly teamed up to make sure health and the environment were not protected for the residents of the northern Birmingham communities and Tarrant. Real people, many of whom are members of our organization, are being harmed by the toxic pollution spewing from Drummond Company’s ABC Coke facility. Furthermore, if you are to oversee permit renewals, enforcement actions, further action taken to ameliorate contamination at the 35th Avenue Site etc., it is imperative that the public be informed of every detail of the consulting work you performed for the ‘Drummond/ABC Coke project’ that was paid for by Balch.”

Trey Glenn’s office has yet to respond to my request for more information. Copied on the letter were: President Donald J. Trump, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, Sen. Doug Jones, Sen. Richard Shelby, Rep. Gary Palmer, Rep. Terri Sewell, Sen. Johnny Isakson, Sen. Chris Coons, Sen. Cory Booker.

“Real people, many of whom are members of our organization, are being harmed by the toxic pollution spewing from Drummond Company’s ABC Coke facility.”


That’s Not All

There were a couple of other items on Glenn’s disclosure form that stood out. For example, he listed compensation of more than $5,000 from Big Sky Environmental for “consulting.” You may recall the recent uproar over the so-called “poop trains” that were parked in the North Birmingham neighborhood. The rail cars — which were recently banned from sitting in the town of West Jefferson after residents protested — contained sewage sludge from New York and New Jersey for disposal at the Big Sky Environmental landfill in Adamsville. Speaking of Big Sky Environmental, check out this bizarre story about the company that’s sure to leave you scratching your head.

That wasn’t the only thing that raised our eyebrows. Glenn also reported more than $5,000 from Matrix, LLC — the notorious “communications” firm favored by politicians and powerful business interests. The reason? Also for “consulting.” The Energy and Policy Institute describes Matrix as a “lobbying and opposition research firm that has provided political consulting services to Alabama Power for decades.”

Between Glenn’s past behavior and the recent revelation that he’s been paid by Balch & Bingham to work on the “Drummond/ABC Coke project,” coupled with consulting for questionable actors like Big Sky Environmental and Matrix, LLC, we have come to the conclusion that Trey Glenn must recuse himself from any and all matters related to north Birmingham or Drummond Company.

Take Action

Write your own letter asking Trey Glenn to recuse! Or call Region 4 and relay your concerns.

Hon. Trey Glenn
Regional Administrator
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 4
61 Forsyth Street, S.W.
Mail Code: 9T25
Atlanta, GA 30303-8960
(404) 562-9900


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Jeff Sessions, Corruption & Environmental Injustice in North Birmingham

Jeff Sessions, Corruption & Environmental Injustice in North Birmingham

Jeff Sessions, Balch & Bingham and Drummond CoMPANY

Environmental Injustice in North Birmingham

by Michael Hansen | March 8, 2018

Mother Jones is reporting that Attorney General Jeff Sessions was “deeply involved in coordinating the effort to thwart the EPA cleanup” in north Birmingham — more than we initially thought.

“Not only did his office take the lead on drafting the letter of complaint, it arranged a contentious meeting with EPA officials to press them to back off their efforts to clean up the polluted neighborhood.” (Mother Jones)

The former junior senator from Alabama has for years had deep connections to Balch & Bingham and Drummond Company. The two companies were the second and third largest sources of Sessions’s senate campaign contributions. That’s why we sent a blunt letter to Sessions on August 25, 2017 asking him to recuse himself “from any and all future involvement in the ongoing investigation into public corruption related to the so-called North Birmingham Superfund Site.” Unfortunately, the AG’s office has not deigned to respond to our request. We’ve not heard back in writing or via phone call.

Former EPA Region 4 Administrator McTeer-Toney recalled to Mother Jones that Sessions’s staffers, “were really, really pressing, trying to press senior officials to overrule what our decision was in the region. They wanted to go over our head, way over our head.” McTeer-Toney has since been replaced by former ADEM Director Trey Glenn as Region 4 Administrator.

According to Mother Jones, a December 2015 Balch & Bingham newsletter “touted a meeting with Sessions to discuss the 35th Avenue site and predicted a letter, signed by top Alabama lawmakers, would shortly be sent to the EPA expressing concerns over the agency’s methodology when it came to assigning blame.” Sure enough, Sessions, Sen. Richard Shelby, and Rep. Gary Palmer sent exactly such a letter to the EPA.

“I wish I could say it’s surprising how deep and how wide the public corruption goes with this scandal,” says Gasp Staff Attorney Haley Lewis. “I am disgusted at how many people who are supposed to be acting as public servants are going out of their way to go against the public interest in the northern Birmingham and Tarrant communities. If Sessions had to recuse himself from the Russia investigation, it’s even more clear he needs to recuse himself from any investigation into the corruption affecting much-needed relief for the residents of the northern Birmingham communities.”


The North Birmingham Environmental Collaboration Project spans four neighborhoods north of downtown Birmingham: Harriman Park, Collegeville, Fairmont, and North Birmingham. Formerly known as the 35th Avenue Superfund Site, the project began in earnest in 2009 when an EPA air toxics study at three Birmingham schools was at the upper end of the range for acceptable levels of risk. The EPA in 2012 tested over 1,100 properties in the area for semi-volatile organic compounds, metals (e.g., arsenic and lead) and polycylic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), including benzo(a)pyrene, benzo(a)anthrocene, and benzo(b)fluoranthene. This lead to a large scale remediation plan to remove and replace contaminated soil from properties.

The EPA in 2013 named five companies were named as “potentially responsible parties” (PRPs): Drummond Company, Walter Coke (now ERP Coke), KMAC Services, U.S. Pipe & Foundry Company, and Alagasco (now Spire). Typically PRPs negotiate with the EPA to either cleanup contamination themselves or to reimburse the EPA for their “share” of the cleanup costs. The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA) gives the EPA the authority to seek repayment through settlement agreements or through the Justice Department. By January 2014, all five PRPs declined to negotiate with the EPA to assist with the cleanup. Soil remediation efforts began the following month with the 52 most contaminated properties.

Gasp has been involved with the community since about 2010 when we began attending Community Advisory Board and neighborhood association meetings. Since then, we have assisted residents by providing technical assistance and legal intervention where possible. On April 18, 2014, Gasp filed extensive comments on ABC Coke’s Title V air pollution permit. A few months later, we did the same with the Walter Coke permit.

On August 26, 2014, Gasp petitioned the Jefferson County Board of Health to disapprove the ABC Coke permit and requested a hearing to argue our case. The Board of Health oversees the Jefferson County Department of Health, which is granted authority from the EPA to regulate air emissions in the county. They rejected our request for a hearing, setting off a lawsuit against the Board of Health that eventually made its way to the Alabama Supreme Court — where we won last year. We have yet to have a hearing on the ABC Coke permit, which is up for its five-year renewal next year.

On July 1, 2014, Gasp petitioned the EPA to conduct a site inspection for hazardous substances near the ABC Coke plant in Tarrant, a suburb of Birmingham that was not included in the 35th Avenue Superfund Site boundary. The EPA ultimately granted that request finding grounds for further investigation. In September 2014, the EPA proposed adding the 35th Avenue Superfund Site to the National Priorities List (NPL), which would have unlocked additional federal funding from the Superfund Trust for cleanup efforts regardless of whether or not the PRPs paid their share. Gasp strongly supported this effort and helped community members submit comments advocating for a comprehensive cleanup and long-term community revitalization. The proposal was never approved.

“I am disgusted at how many people who are supposed to be acting as public servants are going out of their way to go against the public interest in the northern Birmingham and Tarrant communities.” (Haley Lewis, Gasp staff attorney)

Meanwhile, some local and state lawmakers were weighing in opposing our efforts. The Jefferson County Commission passed a resolution condemning our work. The mayor of Tarrant, Loxil Tuck, sent a truly bizarre letter (pictured) via utility bills complaining about us to her constituents. State Sen. Jabo Waggoner and State Rep. Oliver Robinson filed a joint resolution in both houses of the Alabama Legislature admonishing the EPA for its actions in northern Birmingham. Attorney General Luther Strange wrote multiple letters to the EPA opposing the cleanup work — and received $50,000 in well-timed campaign contributions from Drummond around before and after those letters were sent. The list goes on and on. (The City of Birmingham was dead silent on the NPL proposal.)

Last year, former-Rep. Oliver Robinson, one Drummond Company executive (David Roberson), and two Balch & Bingham attorneys (Joel Gilbert and Steve McKinney) were indicted by the Department of Justice on corruption charges related to the ongoing environmental cleanup efforts in northern Birmingham. AL.com columnist John Archibald and reporter Kyle Whitmire broke the Robinson story in April 2017 — before he was indicted — detailing how he took more than $130,000 from Balch and Drummond to undermine the EPA’s cleanup efforts and, in particular, Gasp’s work.

Robinson pleaded guilty to the charges and is expected to be sentenced soon, facing up to 100 years in prison. Roberson, Gilbert, and McKinney pleaded not guilty and are awaiting trial. Federal investigators appear to still be trying to gather information.

AL.com natural resources reporter Dennis Pillion wrote an explainer piece for The Birmingham News last year that helps explain the history of the 35th Avenue Superfund Site in the context of the recent corruption revelations: North Birmingham’s 35th Ave EPA Superfund site explained.

In light of the latest revelations from the Mother Jones story today, Gasp is renewing its call for Attorney General Jeff Sessions to recuse himself from this investigation entirely.

Ask Jeff Sessions to Recuse Himself

Two powerful lobbyists. One coal company executive. One state legislator. That’s who has been indicted so far in the ongoing North Birmingham corruption investigation. The stakes of the investigation into Drummond & Balch’s pollution-enabling corruption scheme are too high to be trusted to Attorney General Jeff Sessions — a man with an indisputable conflict of interest. Send a letter to Mr. Sessions asking him to recuse himself from this matter.

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Raise Money for Gasp with Planet Fundraiser!

Raise Money for Gasp with Planet Fundraiser!

Raise Money for Gasp with Planet Fundraiser!

Gasp is proud to be an official Planet Fundraiser Cause! The simplest way to support Gasp is by getting the free Planet Fundraiser app. Simply make everyday purchases at businesses listed in the app, submit a picture of your receipt and we’ll receive a percentage of the total! It’s that easy.

Planet Fundraiser is a free mobile app that helps supporters like you give back to your school or cause of choice just by making everyday purchases. Here’s how it works:

  • Get the Planet Fundraiser app here (select your download of choice).
  • Shop at a business near you (Includes grocery stores, retail, and restaurants, among others).
  • Take a picture of your receipt with the app.
  • A percentage of your total purchase is automatically given to Gasp! 100% of the proceeds come directly to us.

If you’re like many of our supporters, you’ve already gone above and beyond to show your support through numerous events, donations, and other ways to help out. That’s why we’re excited about this opportunity — Planet Fundraiser makes fundraising feel good and takes less of your time.

Whenever you use the Planet Fundraiser app, you’re helping fund our programs and making a difference in our community.

We’re aiming to reach 75 downloads and earn at least $1,000 by February 28. Will you help us meet our goals by downloading the app and submitting your first receipt today?

Exposure to air pollution increases risk of birth defects

Exposure to air pollution increases risk of birth defects

Exposure to air pollution increases risk of birth defects

A new study in the Journal of Pediatrics Researchers looks at the relationship between birth defects in about 200,000 infants born between 2006 and 2010 in Ohio and fine particulate matter pollution (PM2.5) near mothers’ homes around the time of conception. Researchers found that mothers who were exposed to more air pollution were significantly more likely to give birth to babies with birth defects.

Here’s what the study concludes:

Increased exposure to PM2.5 in the periconception period is associated with some modest risk increases for congenital malformations. The most susceptible time of exposure appears to be the 1 month before and after conception. Although the increased risk with PM2.5 exposure is modest, the potential impact on a population basis is noteworthy because all pregnant women have some degree of exposure.”

In other words, a mother’s exposure to air pollution during the month before her child is conceived modestly increases the risk of birth defects. Study author Dr. Emily DeFranco (University of Cincinnati College of Medicine in Ohio) said, “Our study indicates that there are several particularly vulnerable exposure periods near the time of conception, both before and after conception, in which exposure to higher levels of particulate matter in the air may pose an increased chance for a birth defect to occur.”

Overall, the average level of PM2.5 was 13.79 micrograms per cubic meter of air (ug/m3) for women who lived within 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) of an air quality monitoring station. The researchers found for every 10 ug/m3 increase in PM2.5 levels women experienced during the month after conception, babies were 19 percent more likely to be born with birth defects.

Dr. Shruthi Mahalingaiah, an environmental health researcher at Boston University, told Reuters, “If you live in areas of the world with high levels of ambient air pollution, you may consider installing appropriate air or ventilation systems so that your in-home air quality is excellent. Ideally, working together with policy makers, companies, and nations to reduce emissions and innovate around sequestering current levels of emissions would be a goal.”

If you believe healthy air is a human right, sign our pledge today!

Radical Five-year Offshore Plan will Heighten Spill Risks For U.S. Coastal Areas

Radical Five-year Offshore Plan will Heighten Spill Risks For U.S. Coastal Areas

Plan Poses Huge Risk to Coastal Economies, Businesses and Marine Life in Previously Undeveloped Waters.

WASHINGTON, DC. — The Trump Administration is ignoring sound science and broad public input in an exhaustive recent review, in its proposed Five-Year Plan for offshore oil and gas leasing released today. The proposed plan promises “severe and unacceptable harm” to America’s publicly-owned oceans, coastal economies, public health, climate and marine life—all in a bid to pursue dubious energy sources that America does not need, according to 64 groups.

The proposed drilling plan unveiled by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke would radically expand offshore drilling in new areas of the Atlantic, Pacific, Gulf of Mexico and Arctic waters, and auction off permanently protected areas.

The protections in the current five-year plan are based on scientific analysis and a multi-year public comment process, whereas the Trump Administration’s hastily concocted proposal is rife with unsubstantiated claims, faulty economics, and runs roughshod over documented public opinion.  Specifically, the proposal would expose the Arctic waters–our last undeveloped ocean—to drilling, put the Atlantic coast on the chopping block for the first time since 1983, open the Pacific coast–which has not seen federal drilling for decades, and further threaten the debilitated Gulf of Mexico.

The groups’ joint statement follows:

“These ocean waters are not President Trump’s personal playground.  They belong to all Americans and the public wants them preserved and protected, not sold off to multinational oil companies.  

The Trump Administration’s plan to unleash the dangers of drilling offshore is a major, unacceptable risk to hundreds of local communities, their coastal economies, and marine life.” 

This extreme proposal is a shameful give-away that would sacrifice coastal communities, its economies, and our publicly-owned ocean waters. 

Drilling threatens to coat our beaches with oil spills, pollute our air, decimate fisheries, interfere with military training, and keep citizens bound to the whims of foreign oil markets. 

There is no need to force coastal residents to shoulder these risks.  The nation can meet its energy needs and grow jobs by investing in clean, renewable domestic sources like wind and solar that never run out.  We can cut pollution, and keep profits right here at home—not in the pockets of oil industry executives and foreign governments.

No community should have to live every day under the threat of an oil spill that could destroy tourism, shutter hundreds of local businesses, throw thousands out of work, and decimate traditional ways of life.  We cannot afford another crippling Gulf of Mexico disaster—off the shores of Louisiana, the Carolinas, New England, Alaska, California or anywhere else.  

The Trump Administration should heed the public call to preserve our ocean waters and turn back from this reckless, unnecessary expansion of offshore drilling that puts America and marine life last and the bottom lines of private oil companies first.”

With the backing of scienceeconomicsclean energy leaderslocal businesses, and the vast majority of Americans, President Obama permanently protected most of the Arctic Ocean and a chain of deep sea canyons in the Atlantic Ocean, stretching from the Chesapeake Bay to Canada’s border, from dirty and dangerous offshore oil drilling. He also removed the entire Arctic and Atlantic from the five-year leasing plan.

Americans have rejected the Trump Administration’s move to abandon the Obama Administration’s approach by expanding dirty and dangerous offshore drilling and energy exploration.  That opposition includes tens of thousands of local businesses and hundreds of thousands of commercial fishing families that depend on clean coasts, the majority of Americans, over 130 coastal municipalities, many Alaska Natives, bi-partisan lawmakers at the local, state and federal levels, and a host of faith and conservation leaders.

Here is the alphabetical list of the 64 signers of the joint statement:

Alaska Wilderness League, Alliance for Climate Education, America Verde, American Littoral Society, Americans for Conservation & the Arts, Azul, Blue Frontier, Bold Alliance, California Coastkeeper Alliance, California League of Conservation Voters, Center for Biological Diversity, Checks & Balances Project, Clean Ocean Action, Clean Water Action, Climate Hawks Vote, The Climate Reality Project, Connecticut League of Conservation Voters, Conservation Law Foundation, Conservatives for Responsible Stewardship, Corazon Latino, Defenders of Wildlife, Earthjustice, Environment America, Environment California, Environment New Jersey, Environmental League of Massachusetts, Florida Conservation Voters, Friends of the Earth, Gasp, Green Latinos, Greenpeace, Gulf Restoration Network, Hands Across the Sand, Hip Hop Caucus, Inland Ocean Coalition, Institute for Ocean Conservation Science at Stony Brook University, Latino Farmers and Ranchers, League of Conservation Voters, League of Women Voters of the United States, Marine Conservation Institute, Maryland League of Conservation Voters, Massachusetts League of Conservation Voters, Natural Resources Defense Council, New Jersey League of Conservation Voters, New York League of Conservation Voters, NextGen America, North Carolina League of Conservation Voters, Oceana, Oil Change International, Oregon League of Conservation Voters, The Power Shift Network, Sachamama, Save Our Shores, Sierra Club, Surfrider Foundation, Turtle Island Restoration Network, Vermont Conservation Voters, Vermont Natural Resources Council, Virginia League of Conservation Voters, Voces Verdes, Washington Conservation Voters, Washington Environmental Council, and The Wilderness Society.


Alex Frank, (703) 276-3264 or afrank@hastingsgroup.com.