The Environment and Public Works Committee today approved the nominations of Stephen L. Johnson to be Deputy Administrator of Environmental Protection Agency, Ann R. Klee to be General Counsel of Environmental Protection Agency, Charles Johnson to be Chief Financial Officer of Environmental Protection Agency, and Benjamin Grumbles to be Assistant Administrator for the Office of Water of Environmental Protection Agency. At the Committee business meeting, U.S. Sen. Jim Jeffords, I - Vt., the ranking member of the Committee, announced that he is placing a hold on the nominations until his numerous outstanding EPA document requests are satisfied. The following is Jeffords statement: ------------------ Statement of Senator Jim Jeffords
EPW Business Meeting
April 7, 2004
Mr. Chairman, I am voting these nominees out of our Committee today, but I intend to place a hold on their progress on the Senate floor until I receive the long-awaited information I have requested from the Agency. I have determined that this is the appropriate step in light of an unprecedented Administration position that is very troubling to me and to other members of this Committee. The information I requested, quite simply, would help us and the public better understand how the Administration arrived at its questionable interpretations of the Clean Air Act. This attempt by the Bush Administration to prevent Congress from fulfilling its oversight duties is unprecedented, shameful and flies in the face of our Constitutional responsibilities. We have been stonewalled in getting information from the EPA, in some cases for more than two years. I am afraid this is yet another example of how the Bush Administration acts in secrecy. I have bent over backwards to try to accommodate the EPA, but my patience is now worn out. During Administrator Leavitt’s confirmation, I was encouraged by his promises of cooperation and his desire to end the seemingly endless dialogue over document requests. I believed that he was sincere in seeking resolution and I supported his nomination largely for this reason. Unfortunately, I have concluded that no progress has been made in resolving these outstanding document requests. EPA has made excuses about resource limitations, as if that is a legitimate reason for failure to answer questions that were asked two years ago. The EPA continues to maintain that no member of Congress, other than the Chairman of a Committee or Subcommittee, may obtain information other than that which is available to the public under the Freedom of Information Act. We have heard no acknowledgment of the fact that I made these requests when I was Chairman of this Committee. Nor have we received any response to the detailed legal analysis that members of this Committee sent to the EPA on March 29th refuting the Agency’s position. Perhaps most surprising, Mr. Chairman, is EPA’s position that the letter you and I wrote to Administrator Leavitt stating “our commonly held position that the Agency is obligated to respond to requests from each the chair and ranking member” is virtually meaningless. I certainly hope that you will join me in convincing the Agency otherwise. In short, despite high hopes, I perceive no steps toward resolution, and in fact we may have taken steps backward. I must convey, again, that I am very serious about these issues and very disappointed in the lack of resolution. I had hoped that we could put the posturing aside, receive information to which we are entitled from this Agency, and get on with a productive dialogue about environmental policy. We cannot conduct a dialogue when a major participant is less than transparent in its dealings with Congress and the American public. I will continue to pursue greater transparency in this Agency’s decision-making, the revelation of facts, and, hence, a productive dialogue on issues that I believe are truly life-and-death matters. I’m sorry it has come to this sad state, but I believe I am left with no other recourse. ------------------ U.S. SENATE COMMITTEE ON ENVIRONMENT AND PUBLIC WORKS
1) Original Request: May 2001 – The EPW Committee has repeatedly requested analysis of the costs and benefits of different multi-pollutant strategies, like the Jeffords-Collins-Lieberman Clean Power Act, since May of 2001. To date, the Committee has received cost information, but has not received a comprehensive analysis of the benefits of Senator Jeffords’ Clean Power Act. EPW continues to request complete benefits analysis, taking into account all health care-related savings, air quality-related values, and ecosystem effects due to projected emissions reductions. 2) Original Request: August 2001 – Sen. Jeffords wrote to Administrator Whitman on August 10, 2001, with follow-up questions to a July 26, 2001, hearing, seeking a consolidated estimate of the public health and environmental benefits, including tons of pollution avoided, achieved through full implementation of all Clean Air Act programs (including NSR, MACT, and PM 2.5/Ozone) that the Administrator mentioned during the hearing would be potentially “unnecessary” under a three-pollutant reduction scenario. The Committee has received only a qualitative analysis of some programs. 3) Original Request: December 2001 – Concerning both rule packages, EPW Committee members requested in December 2001 letters to EPA and the Department of Energy the following analyses and all related documents: A) the resulting impacts of the rules on future emissions (not provided and no effort has been made to collect the information); B) the impacts on EPA, state, or citizen NSR enforcement, including settled or pending cases, or cases that may have been ripe had the rules not been changed, or future enforcement authority (not provided); C) the impacts on attainment or maintenance of the NAAQS for SIPS, FIPs, or tribal implementation purposes (not performed or provided, and no effort has been made to collect the information); D) the legal consistency or inconsistency of the rules (not provided); and E) the extent to which fewer sources may take permit limits to “net out” of NSR, and the related future emissions impact (provided only a qualitative estimate with no mechanism to detect impact). 4) Original Request: December 2001 – EPW members originally requested a log of documents relating to the proposed New Source Review rules on December 14, 2001. After EPA failed to deliver the log by the promised date of October 24, 2002, EPW resubmitted the request on December 20, 2002. A log was finally received on January 22, 2003 – after the first set of rules was finalized. However, the log is only a partial collection of the documents that would be responsive to the request, it does not contain information pertaining to document content, and it ends on September 30, 2002. EPW has requested a log that identifies document content pertaining to both sets of rules finalized in December 2002 and August 2003, through the date of the Agency’s response to this request, which covers all documents described in the original request. EPW also requested all documents numbered 136-185 in the log on March 25, 2003, and in a subsequent email on May 15, 2003, but has not received these documents. 5) Original Request: December 2001 / July 2002 – EPA has not produced a quantitative analysis of the effects that the new and proposed NSR rules would have on the environment and public health, as was promised during both a July 16, 2002, joint EPW-Judiciary Committee hearing and a September 3, 2002, HELP Committee hearing, and as is required by Executive Order 12866. Furthermore, in December 2001, EPW members requested a discussion of the impacts of the proposed NSR changes on attainment of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards. EPW still awaits this analysis. 6) Original Request: July 2002 – Question number 24 of the July 30, 2002, NSR hearing follow-up request from Senator Jeffords asked for EPA to provide all written advice and comments from the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance (OECA) regarding the effect of the Report and Recommendations on the ongoing enforcement cases. After receiving a second EPW request, EPA offered to allow EPW staff to view the documents at the Agency. The Committee has restated the request that the documents be delivered to the Committee and offered appropriate accommodation for sensitive material. 7) Original Request: February 2003 – In an EPA briefing in February of 2003, EPW Committee staff asked for the amount of methyl bromide currently in stockpiles in the United States. EPA replied that it would not fulfill the request because it considered this confidential business information. As stated by Committee staff in subsequent email correspondence, this assertion does not apply to Congressional requests. 8) Original Request: June 2003 – Senators Jeffords, Graham, and five other Senators sent a letter on June 19, 2003, to EPA concerning the White House’s involvement in eliminating and altering climate change language in the agency’s State of the Environment report. EPA’s response on August 28, 2003, neglected to include a requested list of all inter-agency/Administration (internal) participant reviewers, copies of all internal drafts, and the name of the person who decided to delete the climate change section and insert a reference to an American Petroleum Institute-funded study. 9) Original Request: October 2003 – EPA has not responded to an October 17, 2003, letter from Senator Jeffords and one other Senator seeking the Agency’s confirmation of the accuracy of a statement by Bill Wehrum, counsel to the Assistant Administrator for Air and Radiation, regarding the enforcement approach that the agency will take in the event that the stayed NSR rule on routine equipment replacement is overturned. 10) Original Request: November 2003 – On November 17, 2003, members of the EPW Committee requested EPA (and Council on Environmental Quality) documents relating to the EPA Inspector General's report concluding that the Agency's health based judgments and public communications were altered by White House personnel in the days following the collapse of the World Trade Center. To date, EPW has received none of the documents requested of EPA. 11) Original Request: November 2003 – Assistant Administrator for Air and Radiation Jeffrey Holmstead has not yet responded to a November 18, 2003 request from Senators Jeffords and Leahy that he provide evidence in support of his July 2002 hearing testimony, in which he stated that the Administration’s New Source Review changes would not negatively impact pending enforcement cases. 12) Original Request: January 2004 – EPA has not responded to a January 13, 2004, letter regarding the Administrator’s statements at an Edison Electric Institute meeting concerning both the agency’s proposed mercury rule and New Source Review enforcement and routine maintenance. Specifically, the letter requested economic, legal, or policy analysis supporting the Administrator’s statement that compliance with existing law and with the mercury settlement agreement would be less effective than EPA’s proposed alternative. The letter also asked what the Administrator would be directing EPA to do with respect to the pending New Source Review cases, and cases previously under investigation for violation of NSR rules existing prior to the court stay of the routine maintenance rule.