406 Dirksen EPW Hearing Room
James M. Inhofe
Hearing on the Nomination of
Vanessa Allen Sutherland
For Board Member and Chairman
Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board
April 22, 2015
Ms. Sutherland, thank you for being here today.
The Chemical Safety Board is a deeply troubled agency and its next chairman will have to address a number of issues relating to how the agency is managed.
Just last Tuesday, the EPA Inspector General (who acts as the CSB Inspector General) told our oversight subcommittee that the prior Chairman, Rafael Moure-Eraso, likely committed perjury and other crimes during his tenure at the CSB.
Thankfully, Mr. Moure-Eraso has resigned. But his legacy of mismanagement, harassment, and turmoil remains. For example:
In a July 30, 2013 report the EPA Inspector General said that:
CSB does not have an effective management system to meet its established performance goal to “[c]onduct incident investigations and safety studies concerning releases of hazardous chemical substances.”
On June 19, 2014 former CSB Board Member Beth Rosenberg testified to a House committee that, in her time on the CSB Board:
Those whose opinions differed from those of senior leadership or the Chair are marginalized and vilified. At the CSB, disagreement is seen as disloyalty. Criticism is not welcome and staff fear retaliation.
On March 4, 2015 current board members Mark Griffon, testified to a House committee that “management deficiencies—including an untenable turnover rate—have also contributed to the inefficiencies in completing investigations.”
On January 28, 2015, despite the Congressional and Inspector General investigations about their mismanagement, former Chairman Moure-Eraso, with the cooperation of Board member Ehrlich, took action to give the Chairman and Managing Director complete control of the CSB by dissolving 18 Board Orders that spelled out authorities for individual Board members and approving a new order that removes Board oversight of the actions of the Chairman.
The public and even the other CSB Board member, Mr. Griffon, had no notice of the plans to restructure CSB operations.
According to investigations conducted by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, the former Chairman, the Managing Director, and the General Counsel used private email accounts to hide their plans for operating the CSB from other board members and CSB staff.
After the EPA Inspector General learned about this, he sent a January 2015 report to President Obama concluding that Mr. Moure-Eraso and two of his senior officials violated the Federal Records Act.
In a March 14, 2015, letter to President Obama, both Senator Rounds and I asked for the immediate resignation of Mr. Rafael Moure-Eraso. Two weeks later, Mr. Moure-Eraso resigned.
Mr. Moure-Eraso has now left the CSB and you have been nominated to take his place.
Given the current state of affairs at the CSB, I will be very interested to hear -
- How you plan to address the mismanagement and toxic work environment at the CSB, and
- Your views on what authority should be held by the Chairman of the CSB and what authority should be held by the Board as a whole.