A Republican lawmaker from Arizona wants the head of the Environmental Protection Agency impeached.
A resolution introduced Friday by Rep. Paul Gosar calls for the removal of Gina McCarthy as EPA administrator for making false statements on multiple occasions during congressional testimony. The resolution has 20 co-sponsors.
"Perjury before Congress is perjury to the American people and an affront to the fundamental principles of our republic and the rule of law," Gosar said. "Such behavior cannot be tolerated. My legislation will hold Administrator McCarthy accountable for her blatant deceptions and unlawful conduct."
The congressman accuses McCarthy of committing perjury on three occasions concerning the EPA's new Waters of the U.S. rule, also known as the Clean Water Rule. The rule, which Gosar and other Republicans oppose, gives the federal government control of various types of waterways — such as ditches and tributaries — normally under the jurisdiction of the states.
The resolution is the latest saga in the battle between congressional Republicans and the EPA, which many Republicans accuse of executive overreach.
Agriculture groups, mining companies and other groups in rural regions have expressed concerns that the water rule might pile unwanted regulations on them.
During multiple hearings spanning from February to July, Gosar said McCarthy testified that regulations on previously non-jurisdictional waters were developed based on scientific data. However, memos between officials at the Army Corps of Engineers, which is helping implement the water rule, indicate that was not necessarily true.
Gosar also said McCarthy provided false statements under oath when she claimed that the EPA had met all of the rule's legal and scientific deficiencies raised by the Army Corps of Engineers. Gosar said memos and testimony from Army Corps officials dispute those claims.
"Administrator McCarthy committed perjury and made several false statements at multiple congressional hearings," Gosar said, "and as a result, is guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors — an impeachable offense."
"Administrator McCarthy is a dedicated public servant who performs her duties with the utmost respect for the law," wrote the EPA in a statement sent to the Washington Examiner in response to the resolution. "This exercise has zero merit and is nothing more than political theater. Protecting public health and the environment for all Americans should not be a political issue. All sides want clean, safe air for their children. We are fulfilling our jobs — as Congress has directed us, and as courts have reaffirmed for us — to protect public health and the environment."
This is the third time Gosar has tried to impeach an official from the Obama administration, the first two being former Attorney General Eric Holder and Internal Revenue Service Commissioner John Koskinen. Holder left office in April, while Koskinen is still heading the IRS. Gosar, a three-term congressman, hails from a district in Arizona that includes large swaths of rural land. He will be up for re-election in 2016.
The Clean Water Rule rule went into effect Aug. 28. A federal judge in North Dakota placed a temporary injunction against the EPA the day before the water rule was set to be enforced, after 13 states filed a lawsuit in North Dakota citing concerns it would harm states. The EPA worked around the ruling and went ahead with enforcing the water rule in all states except those included in the lawsuit.
"The Clean Water Rule is fundamental to protecting and restoring the nation's water resources that are vital for our health, environment and economy," the EPA wrote in a litigation statement in response to the temporary injunction.