Inhofe Conducts Oversight on Controversial EPA Fish Contamination Study

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), chairman of the U.S. Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, today sent a letter to Gina McCarthy, administrator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), requesting documents regarding an EPA-funded study conducted between 2008 and 2009 on mercury and selenium contamination in fish.  The study and underlying data were the subject of a 2014 Office of Inspector General (OIG) report.  Although EPA spent more than $610,000 to fund this research project, EPA has never released reports on the study.

“For several months, EPW Majority staff have made repeated requests by telephone and email for documents about this study,” Inhofe wrote in the letter.  “EPA staff have confirmed they have located the documents but have been unwilling to provide them and have given no explanation or justification for this delay other than that the request remains under review.”

Inhofe continued in the letter, “To date, EPA has failed to release the reports from this study to the public, telling the OIG that ‘the conclusions could not be supported by the data we had collected.’  However, according to the OIG report, ‘[The Office of Water] does not provide any specific evidence that the report is not reliable.  Specifically, no statements are made on the weaknesses of the preceding contractor statements regarding fish advisories.  The report was peer reviewed, which resulted in changes that the contractor made and the OW accepted.  During the [OIG’s] review, the OW staff stated they did not know what to do with the data and contractor reports, not that the data and reports were unreliable.’”

“I am deeply troubled by EPA’s refusal to promptly provide copies of the reports from this study.  Given the concerns raised by the OIG report, the considerable amount of tax-payer dollars that were expended, and the many high-profile regulatory and scientific actions involving selenium and mercury contaminated fish that are currently ongoing at the EPA, it is expected that EPA will lift the shroud of secrecy that has surrounded this study and provide these documents without further delay’,” Inhofe concluded the letter.

To view the full text of the letter, click here.

To view the OIG report about this study, click here.