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Sessions Remarks On EPA Nominee, Raises Concerns Over Responsiveness

Press Release

Location: Washington, DC

U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), a member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, issued the following statement today on the nomination of Gina McCarthy to head the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA):

"I had the pleasure of meeting with Ms. McCarthy recently and talking at length with her about many important issues. I believe she is a good person and her assurance that EPA would become more responsive under her management has been encouraging. However, neither Ms. McCarthy nor the agency she would like to lead has been responsive to many of the reasonable requests of Senators tasked with advising and consenting to this nomination.

The job of EPA Administrator has the potential to impact the life of every American in both positive and negative ways--and so I believe she has to be as forthcoming as possible in answering questions. To date, she has not provided responsive answers to many of the requests submitted by our Ranking member, Sen. Vitter, or many of my questions. For example, she has persisted in EPA's stonewalling of my request for information about taxpayer funds wasted on an unnecessary reconsideration of the ozone standard--a request I have waited almost two years to be answered. In addition, she did not answer my questions about EPA's sue and settle tactics, and she has refused to provide EPA's analysis concerning the President's faulty assertion that global temperatures are increasing more than was predicted a decade ago."

Sen. Sessions joined EPW Committee Republicans in asking McCarthy for responses on a set of five specific topics. To date, EPA has not addressed most of those issues. In addition, Sessions asked her for information on a range of topics of importance to Alabama, including job impacts of EPA regulations, problems with EPA's sue and settle tactics, climate change policy, and other issues. McCarthy has been the Assistant Administrator at EPA since 2009 and was the principal architect of most of the controversial and costly regulations promulgated by EPA in the last four years, yet on many topics she simply answered by "commit[ting] to learning more about the Agency's practices" or giving other similar responses. For example, Sessions asked her a series of specific questions about EPA's "sue and settle" issues. McCarthy responded: "I recognize that this committee has focused many of its questions on EPA settlement practices and, if confirmed, I commit to learning more about the Agency's practices in settling litigation across its program areas."

Similarly, McCarthy did not adequately answer specific questions about EPA's decision to engage in a costly reconsideration of the ozone standard. Sessions--as the Ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee--had written a letter to EPA in September 2011 asking for information about taxpayer funds spent on reconsidering this standard. At that time, Sessions had just led a bipartisan group of Senators urging EPA to not finalize a new ozone standard yet--a recommendation that the President ultimately accepted. Almost two years later, EPA still has not provided any cost figures related to the ozone reconsideration process. Last month, Sessions again asked McCarthy: "Did EPA incur significant costs as part of the ozone reconsideration process; if so, how much?" In her written responses, McCarthy did not answer the specific question raised by Sen. Sessions or provide the requested data relating to the costs incurred as part of that effort. As the Assistant Administrator at the EPA Air Office, McCarthy had primary responsibility over EPA's ozone reconsideration process.

Finally Sessions has asked EPA to provide actual data supporting the President's November 2012 assertion that global temperatures are "increasing faster than was predicted even ten years ago." Instead of providing the requested analysis including a chart showing official predictions versus actual global temperatures, McCarthy stated that "EPA has not produced its own analysis, but we expect a definitive comparison in the forthcoming [International Panel on Climate Change] Fifth Assessment Report." This is a remarkable concession; if EPA intends to move forward with costly efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions as a means to address concerns about global temperature increases, shouldn't the agency have already undertaken efforts to determine if temperatures are actually increasing to the extent predicted by the climate models?

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