Republicans on the House science committee are accusing EPA Chief Administrator Gina McCarthy of lying while testifying before Congress last month, not so subtly reminding her that lying before lawmakers is a criminal offense.
“Providing false or misleading testimony to Congress is a serious matter,” House Republicans wrote to McCarthy, accusing her of making false statements regarding EPA regulations and science.
“Witnesses who purposefully give false or misleading testimony during a congressional hearing may be subject to criminal liability,” they wrote. “With that in mind, we write to request that you correct the record and implore you to be truthful with the American public about matters related to EPA’s regulatory agenda going forward.”
Republican lawmakers are referring to a July 9 hearing where McCarthy made allegedly false statements regarding the science behind the EPA’s Clean Water Rule, the agency’s approach to regulating ozone levels and concerns about withholding highway funding from states.
During the hearing, Rep. Frank Lucas, an Oklahoma Republican, asked McCarthy how the EPA came up with certain standards set in the final version of the agency’s Clean Water Rule. Lucas asked McCarthy if EPA had made public the scientific data behind standards for high water marks, floodplains and navigable waters. McCarthy told Lucas the scientific information was “available in the docket.”
The data Lucas asked for, however, wasn’t in the EPA’s regulatory docket. In fact, the committee pointed to an Army Corps of Engineers memorandum which cast doubt on the scientific integrity behind certain aspects of the Clean Water Rule.
“Your statement that the information and data requested in Mr. Lucas’ was publicly available in the EPA docket was false and misleading,” Republicans wrote. “The lack of scientific justification and lack of appropriate collaboration with the Corps on the final rule calls into question the legality of this rule.”
Republicans also slammed the EPA for telling Florida Rep. Bill Posey that states would not be responsible for background ozone (smog that occurs naturally or from out-of-state sources) under the EPA’s proposed smog regulatory plan. That also turned out not to be true, according to the committee.
“You failed to mention that states with high levels of background ozone seeking relief from achieving attainment are confronted with yet another regulatory regime that is at the discretion of the EPA,” they wrote.
“Moreover, you failed to assert that EPA believes that background ozone levels would not present an issue for states with an ozone standard set at 70 [parts per billion],” they added. “Your testimony misleads the states about their obligations under the proposed ozone rule.”
Committee members also called out McCarthy for admitting to lawmakers that ozone is not causing increased asthma, but then not correcting environmental groups and EPA allies for pushing that very argument. Republicans also hammered McCarthy for downplaying concerns that EPA could withhold federal highway funding to states that don’t comply with environmental rules.
McCarthy said such a scenario has “never, ever happened,” but the Federal Highway Administration data shows the agency has imposed highway funding sanctions 13 times in the last 20 years. It’s unclear whether or not these sanctions led to highway funding being withheld, but Republicans argue it shows the agency “will not hesitate” to threaten states that don’t go along with its agenda.
An EPA spokeswoman told The Daily Caller News Foundation it would “review the letter and respond.”
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