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Why has the EPA spent millions on military-style weapons for its ‘special agents’?

( The Environmental Protection Agency is no sixth branch of the Defense Department (the Coast Guard being the fifth “armed service,” even though it exists under the Department of Homeland Security), but you may not know that given the kind of purchases EPA has made over the course of the last decade.

As reported by The Washington Times, the EPA has spent millions of dollars during that time on military-style weapons to arm about 200 “special agents” whose job is to battle environmental crime.

The weapons and gear purchased include assault rifles, body armor, camouflage equipment, drones, amphibious assault ships (not making that up), radar, night-vision gear and other military-style weaponry, according to a newly released report by a watchdog group called Open the Books.

“Protecting the environment just got real. With millions of dollars spent on military style weaponry, the EPA is now literally ensconced with all institutional force,” said Adam Andrzejewski, founder of Open the Books and the author of the report, according to the Times.

“Our report discovered that when the EPA comes knocking they are armed with a thousand lawyers, arrest/criminal data, credit, business and property histories, plus a ‘Special Agent’ with the latest in weaponry and technology,” Andrzejewski added.

According to budget data, the EPA spends about $75 million annually on criminal enforcement. That includes outfitting and equipping a small militia force of 200 “special agents” whose job is to enforce environmental rules.

And while we can’t blame this entirely on the current administration – the EPA was given police powers in 1988, near the end of the Reagan Administration – clearly the agency has up-armored dramatically during the Obama years.

According to the EPA, special agents enforce “the nation’s laws by investigating cases, collecting evidence, conducting forensic analyses and providing legal guidance to assist in the prosecution of criminal conduct that threatens people’s health and the environment.”

EPA budget estimates indicate that each Special Agent costs taxpayers around $216,000 a year in salary, travel, equipment, training and other expenses, the watchdog report found.

The agency’s massive purchases of military gear is just one example of egregious and questionable spending that the 40-page report highlighted.

“Open the Books, a nonpartisan and nonprofit group based in Illinois, scanned tens of thousands of the agency’s spending contracts totaling more than $93 billion from 2000 to 2014,” the Times reported.

“Among the findings were hundreds of millions of dollars on high-end office furnishings, sports equipment and ‘environmental justice’ grants to raise awareness of global warming.”

In addition, the group found:

— Seven of 10 EPA employees make more than $100,000 a year.

— More than 12,000 of the agency’s 16,000 employees were given bonuses last year despite budget cuts.

— EPA employs some 1,000 attorneys, making it essentially one of the largest law firms in the nation.

— Since 2000 the agency has sent more than $50 million to international organizations including groups in Mexico and China.

In 2013, Natural News reported that the IRS has begun arming its special agents with shotguns, in addition to side arms.

At the time, many questioned the decision since there had been no rash of armed incidents involving IRS agents (nor has this happened since).

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