Canton Repository

October 1, 2002

Ex-EPA ombudsman to head watchdog law firm 

By PAUL M. KRAWZAK
Copley Washington correspondent

WASHINGTON — Former Environmental Protection Agency national ombudsman Robert Martin has taken a job heading a
public-interest environmental law firm in Florida.

Beginning today, Martin will be president and chief executive officer of Legal Environmental Assistance Foundation, a
Tallahassee-based nonprofit corporation. LEAF acts as a watchdog on government and business activities related to the
environment.

During nine years as EPA ombudsman, Martin responded to complaints from citizens and launched investigations at
dozens of Superfund sites, including the Industrial Excess Landfill in Lake Township.

In some cases, he issued recommendations that prompted the federal government to modify widely opposed cleanup plans. Martin was still investigating IEL and several other hazardous waste locations when he quit the job in protest last March. He left after claiming his forced transfer within the agency destroyed his independence.

Martin alleged the EPA had illegally retaliated against him in the job. He and the agency eventually reached a financial settlement they have agreed not to discuss.

In his new role, Martin will direct a staff of five lawyers and several staff members who attempt to find “workable solutions” in communities with environmental problems.

Cynthia Valencic, a vice president at LEAF, said Martin is a good fit because he and the firm have similar philosophies.

“He likes consensus, he likes to come up with solutions, but the needs of the community come first,” she said.

The law firm works only in Florida, Georgia and Alabama. Despite those geographic limitations, Martin could have a wider
influence by serving on national task forces, Valencic said. Martin and the board also could decide to expand the reach of
the organization in the future, she said.

The organization does not charge fees for its lawsuits and other work, instead depending on donations and grants.

Martin will be paid more than $100,000, comparable to his salary when he was ombudsman.

Martin was not immediately available to discuss the new job.