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Is the EPA Guilty or Just Ignoring Congress’ Request for Information?

September 24, 2015
Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

WASHINGTON – Congressman Bruce Westerman (AR-04) issued the following statement Thursday (September 24) in response to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) avoidance of Westerman’s repeated request for information regarding the Gold King Mine disaster in Colorado:

“The EPA has consistently avoided answering questions about the Gold King Mine disaster, even when under oath,” Westerman said. “Under oath, I requested drawings and design data from before the disaster, and I requested to know the name of any engineers who were involved in the planning and design of the Gold King Mine project. My requests have been repeatedly ignored by EPA Administrator McCarthy and her staff. Is the EPA admitting guilt through its silence or is the EPA just ignoring Congress? Whatever the answer, it is time for the EPA to own up to its failures and be forthcoming to the American people.”

Westerman on Monday filed a complaint with the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies, alleging that the EPA had been involved in the “practice of engineering,” and seeking an investigation by the state after McCarthy was unable to answer questions under oath regarding the involvement of a licensed engineer in the design and implementation of the Gold King Mine project. He had also asked Mathy Stanislaus – assistant administrator of the EPA’s Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response – similar questions in a House Science, Space, and Technology Committee hearing on September 9, 2015.

Even though Westerman’s attempts to get answers from the EPA to his questions under oath have repeatedly gone unanswered, EPA spokeswoman Liz Purchia had time to respond to media requests. Purchia told Arkansas News Bureau in an article published Wednesday (September 24), “Regarding Rep. Westerman’s question about occupational licensing, EPA did have an engineer licensed by the state of Colorado working on the response.”

In answering the reporter’s questions, Purchia failed to acknowledge Westerman’s repeated requests to know if an engineer was involved in planning and design of the Gold King Mine project and the name of the engineer.

Westerman said, “Working to clean up a mess is different than working to prevent one and the American people need to know if the EPA was negligent in following laws and taking the necessary actions to prevent the spill.”

Document: Division of Professions and Occupations Complaint Form (.pdf)
Document: Official Complaint with Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies, Division of Professions and Occupations (.pdf)
News Article: Arkansas lawmakers pledge to hold EPA accountable for Colorado spill
Press Release:
Westerman Files Complaint Against EPA Over Gold King Mine Disaster
Video:
 EPA Administrator McCarthy Can't Answer Questions from Congressman Bruce Westerman (YouTube)

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