Politics

Republican opposition to EPA nominee eroding

Daily Caller News Foundation logo
Michael Bastasch Energy Editor

Republican opposition to the nomination of Gina McCarthy to head the Environmental Protection Agency is fading as a top Republican senator vowed not to filibuster her confirmation.

“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,” said Louisiana Sen. David Vitter, the top Republican on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

Vitter and other Republicans on the committee previously sent McCarthy five transparency requests they wanted the EPA to meet before she would receive their support. McCarthy was initially slow to respond, which led to Republicans boycotting her confirmation hearing.

But Vitter announced on Tuesday that the EPA had taken enough steps to receive his support.

“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 added.

According to Republicans, the EPA has agreed to four of their transparency requests. The agency will re-train its more-than 17,000 employees regarding Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, and issue new guidelines on using personal email accounts and record-keeping. The EPA will also publish notices of intent to sue to bring more openness to what are called “sue and settle” lawsuits. (RELATED: 21 states tell EPA to avoid ‘sue and settle’ lawsuits)

The only remaining obstacle is Missouri Republican Sen. Roy Blunt, who has yet to lift his hold on the nomination.

Reports that top EPA officials were using alias and private email accounts to avoid public oversight ignited a transparency battle between Congress and the agency. Last year, The Daily Caller News Foundation reported that former EPA administrator Lisa Jackson was using an alias email address under the name “Richard Windsor.”

Subsequent reports came out that at least two top EPA officials were using private email accounts to correspond with environmentalists and conduct official business.

Republicans have also criticized the EPA’s handling of FOIAs after it was reported that the agency had routinely denied fee waiver requests to conservative groups while nearly always granting them to environmental groups. Reports also showed that the agency had also been stonewalling on FOIA requests from Republican-led states.

“While the president promised transparency, he and the people he chose to lead various sections of his administration are very clearly failing to deliver,” Vitter told TheDC News Foundation in June.

The practice known as “sue and settle” has also come under fire from Republicans, who argue it allows environmental groups to set the EPA’s regulatory agenda while locking industry and the states out of the process.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce found that between 2009 and 2012 the EPA entered into sue and settle agreements at least 60 times, resulting in more than 100 new, costly regulations.

The Hill reports that a vote on McCarthy could come next week.

Follow Michael on Twitter

Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact licensing@dailycallrnewsfoundation.org.

Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.