Matt Dempsey Matt_Dempsey@epw.senate.gov (202) 224-9797
Katie Brown Katie_Brown@epw.senate.gov (202) 224-2160
Senate Republicans Request EPA IG Investigation after Agency Fails to Respond to Questions on Emergency Order in Parker County Texas
Washington, DC - Today, all the Senate Republicans from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 6 states sent a letter to the Inspector General's office of the EPA requesting an investigation to determine if proper protocols and procedures were followed by EPA Headquarters and Region 6 surrounding their issuance and subsequent withdrawal of a December 2010 administrative order in Parker County, Texas.
The letter to the EPA IG was sent from Senator James M. Inhofe (R-OK), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works; he was joined in the letter by Environment and Public Works Committee members Senators David Vitter (R-LA) and John Boozman (R-AR), as well as Senators Tom Coburn (R-OK), John Cornyn (R-TX), and Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX). The Senators' letter follows comments made from the recently resigned Region 6 Administrator Al Armendariz, who stated that EPA's "general philosophy" is to "crucify" and "make examples" of oil and gas companies. Not long after he made these statements, EPA Region 6, led by Armendariz, issued and highly publicized a largely unsubstantiated administrative order against a Texas oil and gas producer purporting to link hydraulic fracturing to groundwater contamination - an order the Agency subsequently withdrew.
On April 25, 2012, Senator Inhofe wrote a letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson asking for a thorough explanation regarding the Agency's actions surrounding the Parker County, Texas, investigation, and for EPA to clarify the science the agency used to justify their emergency order. On the Senate Floor, Senator Inhofe announced that he would be conducting an investigation into this situation given that it happened in Region 6 under the watch of Administrator Armendariz, who resigned in April.
EPA's actions in this instance, coupled with their failure to respond to questions about actions the agency took against oil and gas producers, has prompted all the Region 6 Republicans to request this IG investigation.
Senator Inhofe requested a response from EPA on this matter by May 11, 2012, but he has yet to receive an answer.
Senator Inhofe: "EPA's failure to provide Congress with any answers is deeply troubling, especially as the agency has earned a 'reputation for abuse.' Given all that has come to light about EPA's 'crucify them' agenda - an agenda that has played out not only in Region 6 but across the country - Congress deserves a full explanation about this particular case. I look forward to working with my Senate colleagues and the EPA IG to get answers."
Senator Vitter: "Make no mistake about it, fracking is the next big fight for the EPA and its yet to be proven science. But the fight over this couldn't be more critical as this process of fracking is the heart of the biggest U.S. natural gas and manufacturing boom of our lifetime. That's why we're seeing environmental activists making policies that fit their political agenda but lack sound scientific evidence. We're going to keep holding their feet to fire until we get answers."
Senator Cornyn: "For too long the Obama EPA has sought headlines instead of facts, as was the case here. Texans deserve to know if this action was carried out in a politically-motivated way, in an attempt to demonize the entire industry and purposely mislead the public."