Committee Leaders Seek EPA Cooperation in Power Plant Rule Probe

July 9, 2014

WASHINGTON, DC – House Energy and Commerce Committee leaders today wrote to Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy to follow up on the committee’s request for documents and information relating to the agency’s consideration of carbon capture technologies in developing its greenhouse gas emissions standards for new power plants. The committee initially wrote to EPA in March with the request, but the agency has yet to produce the documents and information necessary for congressional oversight.

In today’s letter to McCarthy, Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Tim Murphy (R-PA) summarized communications between the committee and EPA related to the request and pressed the agency for a timely and complete response. 

They wrote, “A May 9, 2014, response to the committee from your staff states that EPA ‘is committed to providing the committee information necessary to satisfy its oversight interests.’ During a May 20, 2014, meeting between EPA and committee staff, EPA staff further acknowledged the legitimacy of the committee’s inquiry. EPA staff also stated during that meeting that the agency had collected approximately 7,000 potentially responsive documents and expected to begin reviewing these documents in early June. Now, more than three months after receiving the committee’s request letter, EPA has produced to the committee only publicly available documents posted on the EPA docket with one exception: a 12-page non-public document ‘Preliminary Analytic Blueprint’ dated April 11, 2011. Even this document was not complete as EPA staff redacted the names of the EPA ‘Workgroup’ members. In a letter dated June 20, 2014, accompanying the production of this document, your staff stated that while EPA believes it has completed collection of responsive documents, it intends to withhold ‘deliberative’ documents from the committee for an indeterminate period of time, and at least until completion of its current rulemaking. The deliberative process privilege, a common law privilege, has no applicability with respect to Congress and certainly not to EPA’s responses to the committee’s requests for documents.

“Although committee staff has met with your staff to discuss the committee’s requests and the importance of the agency making a timely, good faith demonstration that it will cooperate with the requests, to date, EPA has been wholly unresponsive to the committee. EPA has not communicated a valid claim of privilege or provided any other valid reason for withholding documents from the committee. If EPA intends to cooperate voluntarily with the committee’s requests, we ask that you produce the responsive documents no later than July 23, 2014. To the extent that EPA has decided not to produce responsive documents and requests an accommodation from the committee, please provide by that date a log of such documents, describing each document EPA is withholding and explaining in full your reasons for seeking an accommodation. Should EPA fail either to produce the documents or provide a suitable log by July 23, 2014, this committee will seek to compel their production.”

To view the full letter to McCarthy, click HERE.

To view the committee’s initial March 12, 2014, request, click HERE.

To view EPA’s May 9, 2014 response, click HERE.

To view EPA’s June 20, 2014 response, click HERE.

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