Issa Threatens EPA With Contempt as Team Obama Celebrates Its Climate Anniversary

Oversight chairman says agency has failed to comply with a subpoena.

Rep. Darrell Issa interviewed after Obama's State of the Union address on Tuesday, January 25, 2011.
National Journal
Jason Plautz
Add to Briefcase
See more stories about...
Jason Plautz
June 25, 2014, 9:37 a.m.

While most of Pres­id­ent Obama’s Cab­in­et was tout­ing the an­niversary of Pres­id­ent Obama’s land­mark speech in which he laid out plans to ad­dress cli­mate change, EPA Ad­min­is­trat­or Gina Mc­Carthy was left fa­cing a con­tempt threat from House Over­sight and Gov­ern­ment Re­form Com­mit­tee Chair­man Dar­rell Issa.

Issa is­sued a sub­poena in Novem­ber for doc­u­ments and com­mu­nic­a­tions between the En­vir­on­ment­al Pro­tec­tion Agency and the Ex­ec­ut­ive Of­fice of the Pres­id­ent over a five-year peri­od as part of an in­quiry in­to wheth­er the White House in­terfered with how the agency re­spon­ded to con­gres­sion­al in­quir­ies.

That re­quest has gone un­ful­filled, said Issa, who says he’s plan­ning to con­vene a com­mit­tee busi­ness meet­ing after next week’s re­cess and hold the agency in con­tempt if the doc­u­ments are not turned over or ex­ec­ut­ive priv­ilege ex­er­ted.

“There is no ne­go­ti­ation “¦ ne­go­ti­ation time ex­pired long ago,” Issa said.

Mc­Carthy told the com­mit­tee that EPA staff was still work­ing with the com­mit­tee to ad­dress its con­cerns and this morn­ing held an in cam­era re­view of a pre­vi­ously-re­dac­ted email that showed there was no co­ordin­a­tion with the White House about how to com­ply with con­gres­sion­al re­quests. Mc­Carthy said the email should ad­dress the root of the sub­poena.

Demo­crats were quick to cri­ti­cize Issa for fo­cus­ing so much on agency man­age­ment, es­pe­cially since the hear­ing fell a year after the pres­id­ent’s cli­mate speech and marked Mc­Carthy’s first ap­pear­ance be­fore Con­gress since EPA re­leased a car­bon pol­lu­tion-re­duc­tion plan for ex­ist­ing power plants.

“Even­tu­ally, I be­lieve, the com­mit­tee must turn from ‘over­sight’ to ‘re­form,’ ” said rank­ing mem­ber Eli­jah Cum­mings of Mary­land. “At some point, his­tory calls on us to take on the greatest chal­lenge our gen­er­a­tion has ever faced in glob­al warm­ing.”

Rep. Gerry Con­nolly of Vir­gin­ia also dis­missed Issa’s ori­gin­al re­quest as a “fish­ing ex­ped­i­tion.”

The hear­ing also in­cluded a bit of deja vu for the com­mit­tee when mem­bers grilled Mc­Carthy on lost emails from a hard-drive crash (the same is­sue that wiped out emails from IRS em­ploy­ee Lois Lern­er). In this case, the emails in ques­tion were from re­tired EPA em­ploy­ee Philip North, who was in­volved in the agency’s de­cision to be­gin the pro­cess of pree­mpt­ively veto­ing the Pebble Mine pro­ject in Alaska.

North, who de­clined an in­ter­view re­quest by the com­mit­tee, is re­tired, and com­mit­tee staff say they have been un­able to track him down. Ac­cord­ing to a com­mit­tee aide, North’s hard drive crashed in 2010 — which was around the same time that the com­mit­tee is in­vest­ig­at­ing the agency’s dis­cus­sions of a po­ten­tial veto — and the emails were not backed up.

Mc­Carthy said it ap­peared there were some emails the agency could not pro­duce that should have been kept, but she was still work­ing to see if they could be re­covered. Mc­Carthy made it clear that it was a small set of emails and that the agency had no­ti­fied the Na­tion­al Archives of the prob­lem Tues­day, though had told Over­sight Com­mit­tee staff earli­er.

Rep. Mark Mead­ows, a Re­pub­lic­an from North Car­o­lina, raised con­cerns that the fail­ure to back up the emails was a vi­ol­a­tion of the Fed­er­al Re­cords Act.

What We're Following See More »
WROTE LAW THAT WEAKENED OPIOID OVERSIGHT
Trump: Marino Withdrawing Nomination for Drug Czar
21 hours ago
THE LATEST
Doesn’t Express Confidence in Marino
Trump to Declare Opioid Emergency Next Week
1 days ago
THE LATEST

After initially promising it in August, "President Trump said Monday that he will declare a national emergency next week to address the opioid epidemic." When asked, he also "declined to express confidence in Rep. Tom Marino (R-Pa.), his nominee for drug czar, in the wake of revelations that the lawmaker helped steer legislation making it harder to act against giant drug companies."

Source:
IN LIGHT OF 60 MINUTES REVELATIONS
Manchin Asks Trump to Drop Marino’s Nomination for Drug Czar
1 days ago
THE LATEST
WOULD OVERTURN MARINO LEGISLATION ON DRUG DISTRIBUTORS
McCaskill Will Introduce Bill in Response to “60 Minutes” Scoop
1 days ago
THE DETAILS

In the wake of Sunday's blockbuster 60 Minutes/Washington Post report on opioid regulation and enforcement, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) has introduced legislation that "would repeal a 2016 law that hampered the Drug Enforcement Administration’s ability to regulate opioid distributors it suspects of misconduct." In a statement, McCaskill said: “Media reports indicate that this law has significantly affected the government’s ability to crack down on opioid distributors that are failing to meet their obligations and endangering our communities."

Source:
EVACUATION DRILL STARTS NEXT MONDAY
U.S. Military to Practice Evacuating Americans in S. Korea
1 days ago
THE LATEST

"The United States military said on Monday that it would practice evacuating noncombatant Americans out of South Korea in the event of war and other emergencies, as the two allies began a joint naval exercise amid heightened tensions with North Korea. The evacuation drill, known as Courageous Channel, is scheduled from next Monday through Friday and is aimed at preparing American 'service members and their families to respond to a wide range of crisis management events such as noncombatant evacuation and natural or man-made disasters,' the United States military said in a statement."

Source:
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login