A federal judge said Friday that the Environmental Protection Agency is being "ridiculous" for trying to bar one of its former Republican officials from testifying against the agency.
EPA tried to block Jeff Holmstead, who served as the agency's longest serving air pollution chief under Republican President George W. Bush, from testifying as an expert witness in a case brought against it by the coal firm Murray Energy.
The EPA "effectively argues that, because Mr. Holmstead once worked at EPA, he should be disqualified from serving as an expert witness in any case adverse to EPA," said Judge John Preston Bailey on Friday. "That dog won't hunt."
"The EPA also argues that Mr. Holmstead should not be permitted to provide expert testimony because he has no 'scientific, technical or other specialized knowledge' as required by Rule 702 of the Federal Rules of Evidence," Bailey added. "Frankly, this argument is ridiculous!"
The environmental agency tried to argue that his appearance in the case was a significant conflict of interest in a court motion to bar Holmstead.
Murray Energy sued EPA in 2014 for not analyzing the effect of its regulations on the coal industry. The court is gearing up for a hearing later this year.