PETER RAFLE (202) 302-7086

Thursday, December 7, 2006


Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) yesterday made the following statement on the nomination of Alex Beehler to be Inspector General of the EPA. Boxer placed a hold on Mr. Beehler’s nomination after the Senate EPW Committee voted on his nomination last evening.



Boxer’s statement follows:


"The Inspector General must be independent and impartial. Federal law requires IGs to be selected “without regard to political affiliation and solely on the basis of integrity and demonstrated ability in accounting, auditing, financial analysis, law, management analysis, public administration, or investigations.”


"Mr. Beehler may be qualified to do a great many jobs, but I believe that he is not the appropriate candidate to lead EPA’s Office of Inspector General. The IG conducts critical oversight of EPA’s risk assessment process, which provides the foundation for much of the Agency’s actions that protect public health and environmental quality.


"DOD, where Mr. Beehler now has a lead environmental policy position, has sought to increase its role in the federal process for setting environmental standards, often advocating for less protective standards than many scientists think will adequately protect our communities. DOD has repeatedly sought to waive environmental laws without sound justification. The EPA IG will play a key part in auditing EPA and DOD environmental activities.


"Mr. Beehler has said he will look at recusing himself or will recuse himself in some of those matters. He has agreed to divest himself from financial holdings that are heavily regulated by EPA, after strong concerns were raised by this Committee. But-- we need a person in this top job who can do the whole job, including reviewing EPA and DOD cleanup issues. DOD is one of the largest polluters in the nation and to accept that the EPA IG himself will not take the lead on these issues is a compromise we cannot afford to make.


"Unfortunately, Mr. Beehler was also unclear at best and evasive at worst when I questioned him at his nomination hearing on his role in DOD initiatives to affect standards for dangerous pollutants like perchlorate. He downplayed his role and led us to believe that industry was not a real part of the discussions with DOD and Mr. Beehler's key staff. The documents we received in answer to detailed questions on these matters lead us to a different conclusion.


"There are many other red flags on this nomination. One of Mr. Beehler key employees lost months of calendars on meetings involving industry and other parties. This was due to a computer glitch he says, yet DOD is already under investigation for loss of a large volume of key documents on perchlorate. Mr. Beehler, a top environmental official at DOD, has not taken action to follow-up or prevent such problems as document destruction in the future. Ignoring these serious system failures is not the right course of action and does not suggest Mr. Beehler approaches serious problems in his own backyard with the approach that a future IG would take.


"DOD also appears to have marked documents privileged that they provided to this Committee on Mr. Beehler's behalf in answer to our questions without ensuring the documents are in fact subject to privilege. Some of these documents do not put DOD in a good light, in some cases DOD appears to be trying to downplay risks of perchlorate to populations as sensitive as newborns.


"I can see why DOD did not want those politically sensitive documents released, but the public has every right to know about these documents. DOD now agrees to release the documents, after loud protests from Members of our Committee, but that does not speak well of Mr. Beehler for failing to ensure that public documents on matters involving public health are made public. Candor is critical for the leader of the Inspector General, who serves as the conscious of the Agency.


"For these reasons, I will vote against Mr. Beehler."