Senator Jim Inhofe
Confirmation Hearing for Nikki Tinsley for EPA Inspector General

Thank you Mr. Chairman for calling today's Confirmation Hearing for Nikki Tinsley as Inspector General for the EPA.

This is a very important position, and if confirmed, Ms. Tinsley, will be the only internal check and balance for the EPA. I met with Ms. Tinsley last week and I was impressed with her credentials. I believe if she maintains her independence from Carol Browner and the other political appointees at the Agency and she is willing to pursue unpopular investigations and be critical of the EPA then she will make an excellent Inspector General.

There are many areas of the EPA which need a critical look. Some of those areas require vigorous Congressional Oversight, and I hope Mr. Chairman, as a Committee, we will all become more active and aggressive in our oversight function. Other areas require a critical look from within the organization and I hope as the IG Ms. Tinsley will fulfill that need.

One particular area is the question of Science within the Agency and how it is used. Recently 20 very brave EPA employees went public accusing the EPA and Carol Browner of ignoring sound science, falsification of documents and illegal lobbying by government employees. While these individual claims have been referred to the Justice Department, the broader issues on how the Agency uses and misuses Science must be investigated. The IG should conduct a broad investigation across the Agency on the use and misuse of science in the EPA's decision-making and regulatory process. I believe for every employee who went public there are probably ten more who agree with them and could offer further examples. I would like to hear from Ms. Tinsley on how her Office would conduct such an investigation.

In addition there are other issues which warrant the IG's attention.

An additional issue raised by the employees is lobbying activities both conducted by EPA employees and encouraged by Agency outreach materials. It is illegal and improper to use appropriated funds to support lobbying activities and the Agency has continued to cross over the line in recent years. This area deserves a hard look by the IG.

Another problem is in the enforcement arena and involves the use of the Agency to over file in State enforcement cases. What should be investigated is not only the use of over filing, but also the threat of over filing. Is this an appropriate use of enforcement resources?

Another area which is very important but also more difficult is the possible collusion between Environmentalist suing the Agency and Agency employees and the effect of the resulting consent decrees. We are now in a position of consent decrees negotiated between the Agency and environmentalist organizations driving public policy and ignoring the will of Congress. What needs to be answered is whether there is in fact collusion, the effect of circumventing the normal regulatory process, and whether any laws are being violated.

While there is a Congressional role for all of these investigations, and I intend to start pursuing them, there is also a very important role for the IG to play since the IG is better equipped to learn the facts from EPA employees.

I would like to follow up with a few questions to Ms. Tinsley today on how she intends to address the science issue and I would like to pursue the other issues with her Office over the next few months.