McCarthy Denies Trying to Obstruct Oversight at EPA; Reviving Free-Trade Agreements Would Revive the Economy
Byline: Phillip Swarts, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy told members of Congress at a Capitol Hill hearing Wednesday that she has never tried to obstruct oversight of her agency.
Preemptive vetoes of a mining project in Alaska, employees who were watching porn during work and an official who pretended to be a CIA agent have led both Congress and an independent watchdog to accuse the EPA of blocking investigations into wrongdoing.
"Cooperation with our overseers is not just EPA's policy, but is, and has always been, part of EPA's culture," Ms. McCarthy told the House Committee on Oversight & Government Reform.
But Rep. Darrell Issa, California Republican and the panel chairman, threatened to hold Ms. McCarthy in contempt of Congress if she does not turn over several documents he requested.
"The subpoena calls for you to deliver the documents. You have not done so," Mr. Issa said. "A troubling trend has emerged: a lack of overall supervision and accountability for those employees who cheat the taxpayers."
The EPA's independent internal watchdog, the Inspector General, likewise has said its investigative efforts have been blocked by the EPA's Office of Homeland Security.
In May, an IG official said the office was acting like a "rogue law enforcement organization" and that it has "hamstrung" oversight efforts by interfering with investigations.
But Democrats at the hearing said that the Republican-led committee was more interested in trying to stop EPA regulation.
"It does not serve the public to interfere with the EPA in its performance of this vital, important and popular duty," said Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, a Rhode Island Democrat who spoke at the hearing.
And the top Democrat on the committee, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings of Maryland, said the EPA has turned over more than 200,000 documents to the committee since 2011 but that lawmakers would continue to "focus on what appears to be an effort to block EPA at every turn and prevent the agency from getting anything done. …