Trey Glenn Resigns as EPA Regional Administrator After Indictment

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Sherrel Wheeler Stewart, WBHM

The Jefferson County Department of Health held public hearings on the proposed renewal of the air emissions permit for ABC Coke. Concerns about the permit heightened following a federal corruption trial where an executive with ABC Coke’s parent, Drummond Company, and a lawyer were convicted in a scheme to thwart testing for pollution near the Tarrant plant.

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By Hank Black

Trey Glenn resigned Sunday as EPA Region 4 administrator for Alabama and seven other southeastern states following his indictment on multiple felony ethics charges last week in Jefferson County.

EPA Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler accepted Glenn’s resignation, according to Region 4 chief of staff Ryan Jackson.

Glenn and former business partner Scott Phillips were arrested and posted bond following their indictments. They denied guilt in the charges.

Mary Walker was named as acting regional administrator. She had been Glenn’s deputy administrator since June and prior to that she was the regional Water Protection Division director.

Environmentalists and a former EPA regional administrator had said Onis Trey Glenn III should step away from his job as administrator while he sought to defend himself.

Glenn, in his resignation letter, called charges against him “unfounded.” He said:

“I hope [this] removes any distraction from you and all the great people who work at EPA as you carry out the agency’s mission,” he says.

In the letter, Glenn says he will focus his attention on his family and clearing his name.

Glenn and Phillips were caught up in the recent bribery scandal over pollution in north Birmingham that brought down former state Rep. Oliver Robinson and officials of Drummond Co. and law firm Balch and Bingham. Robinson pleaded guilty to charges and testified against Drummond executive David Robertson and Balch attorney Joel Gilbert.

Exhibits introduced in court during the trial of Robertson and Gilbert revealed Glenn’s and Phillips’ involvement in a scheme to expand the 35th Avenue SuperFund site and keep it off a federal priority list. Inclusion of the impoverished neighborhoods potentially would lay the cost of their clean-up on Drummond and other industries who have operated in the area.

According to WFPL TV in Kentucky, which also is in Region 4, Judith Enck, former Region 2 administrator during the Obama administration, on Friday called for Glenn to resign.

“I think [Glenn] has to resign immediately because he has no credibility and it’s a real moral hit for the staff in the regional office,” Enck says.

Black Warrior Riverkeeper Nelson Brooke said the environment would be better off without Glenn to watch over it.

“Trey Glenn’s appointment as the head of EPA Region 4 was fraught with ethical questions from day one. Trey ran into serious ethical issues both as head of the Alabama Office of Water Resources and then the Alabama Department of Environmental Management. Both ethical flaps led to his resignation as head of these state agencies,” Brooke says. “Trey then consulted and lobbied for some of the most powerful polluting interests in the state of Alabama before being appointed as head of EPA Region 4 in Atlanta. We and many others had zero confidence in his ability to do the job properly, given his clear career bias toward regulated industry. It is a good thing Trey’s tenure at EPA was limited. The people and environment in the 8 states overseen by EPA in the southeast are better off without him.”

Michael Hansen, executive director of Gasp, also said he thought Glenn’s departure is a good thing.

“We applaud Trey Glenn for doing the right thing and stepping aside,” Hansen said. “We urge Wheeler and President Trump to replace Glenn with someone whose integrity and dedication to the environment and public health is beyond reproach. We’re grateful for the support of our members in our ongoing efforts to bring to light the systems and practices that harm our health and our planet, and to defend everyone’s right to breathe healthy air.”

Cahaba Riverkeeper David Butler was not as conciliatory.

“Whether Trey Glenn’s conduct proves to be illegal remains to be seen, but there is no question his documented conduct in Alabama is reprehensible,” Butler said in a statement. “We are hopeful Mr. Glenn’s resignation today is the end of his involvement with the challenging environmental issues facing Alabama. Cahaba Riverkeeper remains committed to a transparent regulatory system which fairly balances the demands of growth and industry against the protection of our rich natural heritage. Mr. Glenn’s indictment and subsequent resignation is a strong step in that direction, and a clear victory for the citizens of Alabama.”

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