The confirmation of Gina McCarthy to become the next Administrator of the United States Environmental Protection Agency continues to be delayed by Republicans in the U. S. Senate. A procedural “hold” has been placed on the nomination, and in addition, several Senate Republicans also point to a lack of response to several questions related to transparency at EPA.
The hold, which is a courtesy procedure, allowed to each member of the Senate with respect to nominations, was placed in March by Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO) as explained in this news release posted by Sen. Blunt’s office. Senator Blunt’s specific concern has to do with bureaucratic delays involving the EPA, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the Fish and Wildlife Service with respect to permitting of levy repairs along the Mississippi River.
However, recent actions by Republicans on the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works have emphasized a different focus on delays to McCarthy’s confirmation. By letter and Committee Minority press release both dated June 12, Senator David Vitter (R-La.) reiterated the importance of resolving a demand for responses to a series of five “transparency” requests sent to EPA. Vitter’s actions were in reference to an April 10 letter he and seven other Senators members of the Committee had sent to EPA raising transparency questions.
The April 10, 2013 letter from the eight Senators can be viewed here. In summary, the transparency issues are: 1) a request that EPA issue guidance for full responses to Freedom of Information Act requests and Congressional inquiries; 2) a request that all private email accounts of Ms. McCarthy are exhaustedly reviewed and that all emails regarding official EPA business are produced unredacted to the Committee; 3) a request that underlying data used to promulgate Clean Air Act rules be made public to allow independent examination of cost/benefit and other issues; 4) a request for written assurance that EPA will conduct cost/benefit analyses as required under various executive orders and by Section 321(a) of the CAA; and, 5) that the Agency provide public notice of intent to engage in settlement negotiations in any citizens suits, and that the Agency include interveners in such negotiations. The requests are detailed and explained in a letter from members of the Senate to Gina McCarty dated April 10, 2013.
The most recent attention to these requests reiterates their significance in the delay of McCarthy’s confirmation. The nomination did move out of Committee on May 16, 2013, after Republicans ended a boycott of the vote following what Senator Vitter described as significant steps forward on the transparency issues. Nonetheless, the vote was 10 to 8 along party lines. And Sen. Blunt’s hold remains in place.