WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW) held a business meeting to consider the nomination of Sean O’Donnell to be Inspector General of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Below is the opening statement of Ranking Member Tom Carper (D-Del.), as prepared for delivery:
“We have one item on the agenda today, and that is to vote on the nomination of Sean O’Donnell to be Inspector General of the United States Environmental Protection Agency.
“The EPA has been without a confirmed Inspector General for over a year now. I believe that all of us here today agree that this is a job that’s far too important to be vacant for this long, so I’m glad we have gathered here together now to vote on Mr. O’Donnell’s nomination.
“As I said at his confirmation hearing, Mr. O’Donnell has a big job ahead of him. That bears repeating, because the EPA’s mission is, and I quote, ‘to protect human health and the environment.’ In order for the EPA to fulfill that critical mission, the agency itself must be protected from misconduct or unethical behavior that could impair it. That oversight responsibility falls in no small part to the EPA Inspector General.
“I have met with Mr. O’Donnell. I have listened to his testimony before this committee. I have reviewed his answers to the Committee’s questions. And, ultimately, I have concluded that Mr. O’Donnell is qualified to serve as the EPA’s Inspector General. I was encouraged by Mr. O’Donnell’s clear commitment to continue investigations into alleged violations of government ethics rules by political leaders, even if those leaders have resigned their positions. Unfortunately, that did not occur with all of the investigations into former Administrator Pruitt’s deeply unethical behavior.
“And, Mr. O’Donnell also promised to protect the integrity of internal oversight functions within the EPA, especially when EPA’s dedicated career staff are put into the untenable position of having to oversee or call out the improper activities of senior political appointees. In recent weeks, we have seen why it is so important for the EPA Inspector General to be clear about the information it needs, and that EPA officials are cooperative and responsive in return.
“While I am hopeful that the current dispute between EPA’s chief of staff and the acting Inspector General will be resolved to everyone’s satisfaction before Mr. O’Donnell is confirmed, the dispute illustrates the importance of the role that Mr. O’Donnell is seeking to perform.
“With that, Mr. Chairman, I look to forward to a brief business meeting this morning. I would like to thank you, along with our colleagues and the members of their staffs, for all of their work to make this meeting both swift and productive. Thank you.”