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GOP senators rip EPA chief for lack of transparency

090716-Feldscher EPA transparency pic
EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy has not "lived up" to the promises she made to make documents public, lawmakers say. (AP Photo/J. David Ake)

Republicans on a Senate committee told the head of the Environmental Protection Agency she isn't living up to promises she made when she was nominated three years ago.

The 10 Republican members of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee wrote to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy Wednesday to criticize her for not making information about litigation and pending rules publicly available. The letter states McCarthy told senators she would improve transparency of EPA's legal activity, which has not happened.

"Such a lack of transparency about EPA activities is especially concerning in light of the transparency commitments you made in 2013 to members of the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works," the letter says. "A recent review by the committee's majority staff of the EPA website and publications suggest the EPA under your leadership has fallen short of these promises."

The letter says the EPA has made some information on litigation and rulemaking available publicly, but there is no list of ongoing litigation on the agency's website. That is in contrast to McCarthy telling the committee that the EPA would post copies of petitions to amend EPA rules on its website starting Jan. 1, 2013.

The agency did post some petitions on that website, but only 13 petitions were made available before the posting stopped.

"It strains the agency's credibility to suggest EPA has received only 13 rulemaking petitions since 2013 and none in the last year and a half," the letter states.

A similar page that would show all documents that show someone wants to sue the EPA was also created, in accordance with a McCarthy pledge to the committee. The Republicans accused her of not keeping that page up to date, either.

That goes along with a lack of transparency during the EPA's process for forming regulations, the letter states.

"A transparent account of ongoing and planned regulatory actions is important not just for the incoming administration, but also for potentially impacted state, local and tribal officials, job creators and members of the public," the letter states.