U.S. Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), top Republican on the Environment and Public Works Committee, made the following statement regarding key reforms at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other federal agencies after two years of unprecedented Congressional oversight.
"Oversight and accountability are certainly among the most important responsibilities we have on the EPW Committee, especially as the Obama EPA continues to take advantage of American taxpayers with burdensome and expensive regulations. Due to our aggressive oversight work exposing some of EPA's failures, we've forced some major reforms to the Agency, including egregious transparency and mismanagement issues," said Vitter.
Vitter has been committed to strong oversight of the Obama Administration, specifically focused on bringing more transparency and accountability to the EPA and the rest of the Administration.
Key reforms due to Vitter's oversight include:
- Reforms to the TIGER grant program to prohibit the Department of Transportation from accepting late grant applications and making any changes to project ratings after the project evaluation process. Previously, TIGER grants appeared to be awarded as political favors from the Obama Administration. In addition, the reforms will require timely and complete documentation of decisions and a specific process for advancing projects. Click here to read more.
- Reforms to Army Corps of Engineers project delivery to allow for more local control over project management and construction, require more accountability on project schedules, increase transparency of internal Corps decisions, and for the first time ever, penalize the Corps for missing critical deadlines.
- Vitter got the EPA for the first time to initiate the process of trying to obtain critical scientific data and research that underpins the vast majority of benefits claims EPA has assumed from their air regulations under the Obama Administration. It was confirmed that there exists no way to independently analyze and verify the data sets or scientific integrity of EPA's claims. EPA also began the process of reaching out to relevant institutions for information on how to de-identify and code personally identifying information that may be included in future data sets.
- Vitter got the EPA to launch a process to convene an independent panel of economic experts with experience in whole economy modeling and for the first time to independently review EPA's ability to measure full regulatory impacts and make recommendations to improve how the agency accounts for the impacts of its regulations.
- To help address transparency issues, in particular the "sue and settle" practice, Vitter got EPA to agree to publish on its website the Notices of Intent to Sue (NOI) and Petitions for Rulemaking (PFR) upon receipt. Those pages can be found at http://www2.epa.gov/aboutepa/petitions-rulemaking and http://www.epa.gov/ogc/noi.html.
- Vitter got a commitment by EPA to mandate the re-training of the 17,000+ EPA workforce in proper protocols involving Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, as well as issuing new guidance on records maintenance and use of personal email accounts pursuant to and upon completion of the audit by the Inspector General. This followed multiple and extensive investigations by Vitter of EPA employees using private email accounts to conduct official business, which also led to the resignation of senior EPA officials.
A number of these reforms came from Vitter's efforts during the nomination process for Gina McCarthy to head the EPA. The Corps reforms were part of Vitter's bill, the Water Resources Reform and Development Act. Vitter has also produced a number of in-depth Committee reports.
- Cooperative Federalism: Neglecting a Cornerstone Principle of the Clean Air Act: President Obama's EPA Leaves States Behind
- EPA's Playbook Unveiled: A Story of Fraud, Deceit, and Secret Science
- Chain of Environmental Command: How a Club of Billionaires and Their Foundations Control the Environmental Movement and Obama's EPA
- Critical Thinking on Climate Change: Empirical Evidence to Consider Before Taking Regulatory Action and Implementing Economic Policies
- Setting the Record Straight: Hydraulic Fracturing and America's Energy Revolution