President Barack Obama’s nominee to head the Environmental Protection Agency’s air quality office is facing questions about transparency.
Obama’s EPA nominee has used a private email account for official business and was instrumental in crafting clean air regulations based on secret data sets.
Janet McCabe, now the acting administrator of the EPA’s air and radiation office, has been instrumental in the Obama administration’s clean air regulatory agenda. Before coming to the EPA in 2009, McCabe headed the Indiana-based environmental group Improving Kids’ Environment, Inc.
Even though McCabe left the eco-group to join the EPA, she may have not relinquished the email account she used while running the environmental group. Emails obtained by Competitive Enterprise Institute senior fellow Chris Horner showed that McCabe may have still been using a private email account from her days as an environmental activist.
McCabe’s private email address was found in a mass email release from the EPA in response to a lawsuit by Horner to obtain documents related to former EPA administration Lisa Jackson’s secret email account under the alias “Richard Windsor.”
“That is where her fellow travelers in the Big Green industry knew to reach her, and apparently how she wanted them to continue to be able to reach her,” Horner told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “And by which she could reach them, all presumably outside of the prying eyes of the laws forbidding that they do so.”
A forwarded email from May 2010 from Janice Nolen at the American Lung Association to McCabe showed that she received the message on the email account “@ikecoalition.org” — the account she used while headed the Indiana-based green group.
The subject of the American Lung Association email was “Burning Marshes to address oil?” Current EPA chief administrator Gina McCarthy responded to Nolen’s email saying, “Thanks Janice. We’re on it!”
The email from environmental activists to McCabe and other EPA officials came after a memorandum from White House science czar John Holdren to his staff about email practices that President Obama wanted to uphold — specifically regarding the use of non-official email accounts to do government business.
“If you receive communications relating to your work at [Office of Science and Technology Policy] on any personal email account, you must promptly forward any such emails to your [Office of Science and Technology Policy] account, even if you do not reply to such email,” Holdren wrote in 2010.
“Any replies should be made from your [Office of Science and Technology Policy] account. In this way, all correspondence related to government business — both incoming and outgoing — will be captured automatically in compliance with the [Federal Records Act],” Holdren added. “In order to minimize the need to forward emails from personal accounts, please advise email senders to correspond with you regarding OSTP-related business on your OSTP account only.”
McCabe has also been involved with the crafting of major clean air regulations under the Clean Air Act that rely on non-public data that the EPA refuses to disclose to lawmakers. EPA non-public data sets were used to justify 85 percent of $2 trillion worth of Clean Air Act benefits from 1990 to 2020.
“For far too long, the EPA has approved regulations that have placed a crippling financial burden on economic growth in this country with no public evidence to justify their actions,” said Arizona Republican Rep. David Schweikert, who introduced a bill to increase EPA transparency.
The EPA has not yet released its non-public data sets for clean air regulations, but have moved ahead with major regulations, including regulating carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants.
McCabe is still awaiting confirmation from the Senate.
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