EPA’s McCarthy Moves Closer to Confirmation

Gina McCarthy moved closer to a Senate confirmation as Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator after Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) confirmed he wouldn’t further block a long-delayed vote on her nomination.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Thursday filed cloture on seven presidential nominations, including Gina McCarthy. The nominations could be voted on this week, experts said. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has also said that McCarthy now has "enough votes to clear a 60-vote hurdle."

President Obama nominated McCarthy on March 4. This May, Sen. Vitter blocked a scheduled vote on her nomination at the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW), where Vitter is the ranking member, but later allowed the panel to move her nomination vote to the full Senate. However, McCarthy’s nomination has been stalled in the Senate by a tussle over changing filibuster rules, and by Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), who continues a hold over the nomination since March over the EPA’s involvement in a Missouri floodway project.

On July 9, Vitter said the EPA had made "major progress" on five transparency requests made by EPW Republicans this May. According to the lawmaker, the EPA has agreed to "mandate" the re-training of more than 17,000 workers on new protocols regarding records maintenance and use of personal e-mail accounts. It has also initiated the process of obtaining requested scientific information data. "For the first time we should be able to determine if there is any way of independently re-analyzing the science and benefits claims for a suite of major air regulations," he said.

Additionally, the EPA is launching a process to convene an independent panel of economic experts with experience in whole economy modeling at the macro and micro level to review EPA’s modeling and the agency’s ability to measure full regulatory impacts, and to make recommendations to the agency, Vitter said.

And finally, the EPA has agreed to publish on two websites any Notices of Intent to Sue (NOI) and Petitions for Rulemaking (PFR) upon receipt, he said. Those measures would help resolve some of challenges associated with closed-door settlement agreements (also known as "sue and settle" agreements). Vitter noted that he and Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), who heads the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, are pressing the EPA to comply with the fifth request, and that they asked Acting EPA Administrator Bob Perciasepe in late June to produce specific e-mails and documents .

"These are huge, significant steps forward to bringing transparency to the agency, and I see no further reason to block Gina McCarthy’s nomination, and I’ll support moving to an up-or-down vote on her nomination," Vitter said.

Sources: POWERnews, Sen. Vitter, EPA

Sonal Patel, Senior Writer (@POWERmagazine, @sonalcpatel)

Editors note: This story was originally published on July 16

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