EPA officials agreed to address transparency concerns voiced by Republican U.S. senators in return for the lawmakers agreeing to attend nomination hearings on President Barack Obama’s choice to lead the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Gina McCarthy. Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) led Republican senators boycotting the hearings, which denied the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works from having the necessary quorum to consider the McCarthy nomination, until EPA agreed to provide information on five topics raised by Republican senators.
One Step Forward
Acting EPA administrator Bob Perciasepe wrote Vitter a letter promising to respond to Republicans’ questions and request for information. Vitter requested information, which was initially denied, on topics titled: (1) FOIA failures, (2) inconsistent email practices and policies, (3) transparency through data access, (4) snapshot approach toward economic analysis doesn’t work, and (5) sharing ‘intent to sue’ notices with public.
After receiving Perciasepe’s letter, Vitter and the other Republican senators on the Environment and Public Works Committee attended May 16 hearings in which the Committee advanced the McCarthy nomination to the full Senate on a 10-8 party-line vote.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) declined to hold immediate hearings and a vote on the McCarthy nomination. Reid instead announced he would delay the vote until July, as Senate insiders indicated McCarthy may not yet have enough votes for confirmation.
Agreement with Republican Concerns
Matt Vadum, a senior editor at the Capital Research Center, said Democrats shouldn’t be surprised at Republicans’ desire for a comprehensive vetting of McCarthy.
“If [Lisa] Jackson, whose abuses of her position at EPA are legendary, had been asked more questions, her scandalous tenure at the agency might have been avoided,” said Vadum.
“Environmentalists play hardball. They are master manipulators of the legislative and regulatory process. To hear them whining about minor inconveniences in Gina McCarthy’s confirmation process ought only to inspire laughter,” Vadum explained.
Christopher Horner, a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, said Republicans are entirely justified in subjecting the McCarthy nomination to intense scrutiny.
“She was the chief lieutenant in charge of implementing the pro-scarcity, anti-energy ‘war on coal’ agenda after it failed [to make it] through the proper democratic process,” Horner said. “She is actively participating in EPA’s stonewall of emails reflecting her thoughts on the obvious legal and scientific infirmities, among several thousand we are in court—still—fighting to obtain.”
‘This Disastrous Agency’
Horner said more negative information about McCarthy may soon surface once a FOIA request for some of her text messages is fulfilled—though that may take months or longer.
“True to form, she is assisting EPA in stonewalling a FOIA request for those, as well,” Horner said. “In other words, she is perfectly suited, in outlook and temperament, for this disastrous agency.”
Cheryl Chumley ([email protected]) is a news writer with The Washington Times.