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Former U.S. Environmental Protection Agency hazardous waste ombudsman Robert Martin will discuss the health disaster affecting New York City following the 9/11 attack and provide an insider account of federal environmental regulation “as it really works” in an address at Lawrence University as part of the college’s Earth Day celebration.

Martin presents “The Bush Administration and the Environment,” Wednesday, April 21 at 7:30 p.m. in Youngchild Hall, Room 121. The event is free and open to the public.

Martin will discuss the Bush administration’s handling of the situation in New York following the World Trade Center collapse, which produced a toxic cloud that covered lower Manhattan for days after the tragedy and left substantial quantities of toxic materials in buildings.

In his role as ombudsman, Martin joined other government scientists in urging officials at the EPA and the Department of Justice to alert the public to the hazard and provide direction on ways to reduce health impacts.

That urging, along with investigations Martin was conducting into possible conflict of interest charges involving EPA chief Christine Whitman, brought him into direct conflict with the Bush administration and eventually led to the abolishment of the ombudsman’s office by Whitman.

He was later reassigned to the Inspector General’s Office to answer phones on the EPA hotline. Martin, who had spent more than nine years with the EPA, claimed the move to eliminate the ombudsman’s position was an attempt to squelch the ability to independently investigate wrongdoing at the agency. His subsequent resignation on Earth Day in
2002 made national headlines.

Martin’s visit, part of a statewide speaking tour on the ongoing rollback of major environmental laws under the Bush administration, is sponsored by Greenfire, the student environmental organization, and the Co-op House.