U.S. Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), top Republican on the Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW), today said that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has made major progress on the five transparency requests the EPW Republicans have been demanding throughout the Gina McCarthy nomination process. In a May 16 letter sent to the EPA, Vitter said if the EPA made progress on the requests, he intended to support handling the McCarthy nomination on the Senate floor without a filibuster. Today, he agreed to fulfill that commitment after receiving historic agreements from the EPA.
"I've had very productive conversations with EPA over the last several weeks, and believe the agency has taken significant steps forward on our five transparency requests," Vitter said. "These are huge, significant steps forward to bringing transparency to the agency, and I see no further reason to block Gina McCarthy's nomination, and I'll support moving to an up-or-down vote on her nomination."
Vitter announced his decision at the Republican member's policy lunch today.
The EPA has committed to the following:
* FOIA -- the EPA agreed to mandate the re-training of the 17,000+ EPA workforce as well committing to issuing new guidance on records maintenance and use of personal email accounts pursuant to and upon completion of the audit by the Inspector General.
* Scientific Data -- EPA has initiated the process of obtaining the requested scientific information, as well as reaching out to relevant institutions for information on how to de-identify and code personally identifying information that may be in any of the data. For the first time we should be able to determine if there is any way of independently re-analyzing the science and benefits claims for a suite of major air regulations.
* Economic Analysis -- EPA is launching a process to convene an independent panel of economic experts with experience in whole economy modeling at the macro and micro level to review EPA's modeling and the agency's ability to measure full regulatory impacts, and to make recommendations to the agency.
* Sue and Settle -- To help resolve some of the challenges with lack of public input in closed-door settlement agreements, otherwise referred to as "sue and settle", EPA will publish on two websites the Notices of Intent to Sue (NOI) and Petitions for Rulemaking (PFR) upon receipt. Those websites can be found at http://www2.epa.gov/aboutepa/petitions-rulemaking and http://www.epa.gov/ogc/noi.html.
Vitter will also continue working with U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) on the EPW Republican's fifth request. Vitter and Issa recently put the EPA on notice that the Oversight Committee would consider the compulsory process to compel the Agency to produce specified documents.
Vitter also announced today that he will remain a "no' vote on the cloture motion to proceed to the nominations of Thomas Perez to head the Department of Labor, and Richard Cordray to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The latter will remain true unless and until major reforms are made to the bureau.