Vitter Summary Statement for Oversight Hearing on EPA's FY2015 Budget
U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works “Oversight Hearing on the Environmental Protection Agency’s FY2015 Budget Proposal”
March 26, 2014
Thank you Chairman Boxer, for convening today's oversight hearing to review EPA's 2015 budget proposal, and thank you, Administrator McCarthy, for being here to testify. This Committee has a fundamental responsibility to the public to review Agency actions, especially those of an Obama EPA whose hyper-regulatory actions and muddled internal operations are so far removed from the realities of the American people.
The starkest example of this culture at EPA is the case of former senior EPA official John Beale who has turned out to be a manipulator and a fraud. We now know the EPA ignored handling this problem for years, rather than take action against the fake CIA agent who stole over a million taxpayer dollars. This and other failings are detailed in a series of memoranda issued by my Committee staff, which I would like to enter into the record at this time.
These memoranda expose this indisputable timeline: in January 2011, McCarthy was informed that Beale had been receiving erroneous bonus payments that elevated his salary above the statutory cap, and was advised by her human resources staff and legal counsel to cancel the bonus. Instead, she deferred to EPA officials equal in her rank, allegedly because of uncertainty over Beale's CIA status. However, a senior EPA official directly informed McCarthy there were no CIA employees at EPA. While it appears McCarthy believed the matter was closed when Beale announced his retirement in May 2011, she learned in March 2012 that Beale had not retired and, in fact, had collected full pay plus a retention bonus of $42,768. McCarthy took no action against Beale for nearly a year, finally cancelling Beale's bonus in February 2013. Instead of firing Beale, McCarthy allowed him to retire two months later with full benefits.
It is now clear that Beale also led one of EPA's most significant rulemakings, the 1997 National Ambient Air Quality Standards for Ozone and Particulate Matter. This effort codified EPA's practice of using fine particulates to inflate alleged benefits of nearly all Clean Air Act regulations. Almost two decades later, the Agency still refuses to share all the scientific data underpinning these costly regulations.
Collectively, Beale and his best friend Robert Brenner's work on the standards introduced a series of dubious actions that the Agency has continued to follow and comprise what we have referred to as "EPA's Playbook," as detailed in a comprehensive 67-page staff report issued last week, which I also request be entered into the record at this time.
The Obama EPA has embraced the strategies of the Playbook, and pursued ideologically driven agendas in much the same way as Beale did in the 1990s: pushing through controversial regulations where the ends justify the means. This is done by assenting to sue-and-settle agreements, excluding public participation, employing heavy-handed management of the interagency review process, inflating purported benefits and hiding the science.
EPA's continued use of the Playbook has led to dire consequences for Americans. For example, on March 10, 2014, The New York Times reported on the story of 81-year-old Ernestine Cundiff of Columbus, Ohio, a diabetic with deteriorating health, living on a fixed income. Ms. Cundiff now struggles to pay her energy bills as a result of EPA air regulations that have shut down electricity generation in her part of the country. The Times noted that situations like Ms. Cundiff's, "ha[ve] spread to other regions of the country." And as EPA's efforts to close scores of power plants moves forward, the challenge for struggling Americans to afford their basic energy needs will grow much worse.
To advance EPA's far-left agenda it is also clear the Obama EPA extends its regulatory arm with complete disregard for American taxpayer dollars. The Agency's failure to account for staff and resources neither begins nor ends with Beale, as we know the time and attendance issues with Beale were not an isolated incident. Further, the Agency has outright failed to provide answers to basic accounting questions on certain projects. In the case of Pebble Mine, EPA has halted the creation of thousands of good paying jobs, yet the Agency has no clue how many staff or resources were spent on its multi-year hypothetical mine scenario. Even on the simple question of what EPA staff was involved in and how much time was spent participating in the Interagency Working Group that developed the Social Cost of Carbon, the Agency draws a blank.
These examples of waste and abuse make Congressional oversight absolutely critical. Corrective actions would normally be possible in an open budget process. However, I highly doubt the Senate will actually vote on the President's budget. Majority Leader Harry Reid has worked relentlessly to prevent open debate and a democratic process in the Senate. This is a calculated tactic to prevent vulnerable democrats from having to take votes against a President whose policies they have endorsed when it wasn't an election year. Such unwavering tactics, similar to those contained in EPA's Playbook, do not serve the public.