Rounds Delivers Opening Statement at EPW Subcommittee Hearing on EPA Progress Implementing IG, GAO Recommendations
Hearing Entitled “Oversight of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Progress in Implementing Inspector General and Government Accountability Office Recommendations”
WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Superfund, Waste Management, and Regulatory Oversight, today delivered the opening statement at his hearing entitled, “Oversight of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Progress in Implementing Inspector General and Government Accountability Office Recommendations.” This hearing is a continuation of the subcommittee’s oversight of the EPA, with a specific focus on the EPA’s progress in implementing recommendations from the Office of the Inspector General (IG) and Government Accountability Office (GAO).
Rounds’ opening statement, as prepared for delivery:
The Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Superfund, Waste Management, and Regulatory Oversight is meeting today to conduct a hearing entitled “Oversight of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Progress in Implementing Inspector General and Government Accountability Office Recommendations.”
Approximately one year ago, we held our first subcommittee hearing with Inspector General Arthur Elkins of the Environmental Protection Agency who testified about his office’s work in conducting audits and investigations related to EPA agency actions and programs.
Since then, we have held hearings conducting oversight on various aspects of the EPA rulemaking process to make certain the regulations the EPA implements are promulgated in an open, transparent process with adequate public participation.
Unfortunately, we have found this is often not the case.
The GAO is an independent, nonpartisan agency that prepares reports that are either mandated by public laws or committee reports, or at the request of Congress.
They provide comprehensive audits examining the economy and the efficiency of government operations.
The Office of the Inspector General reports to both the EPA and Congress regarding any problems and deficiencies relating to the administration of the Agency’s programs and operations, and also serves as the investigative arm of the EPA, examining possible criminal or civil violations by the agency.
These offices conduct agency oversight to determine whether federal funds are being spent efficiently and effectively, the agency is being managed properly and make certain that government programs and policies are meeting their objectives in an open, transparent matter and are complying with the applicable statutes when promulgating regulations.
In addition to conducting their own investigations, the GAO and OIG make recommendations to the EPA that when successfully implemented in a timely fashion can be effective at correcting mismanagement, and holding the EPA accountable in properly fulfilling its mission and responsibly managing taxpayer dollars.
The GAO and the IG prepare regular reports detailing EPA’s progress in implementing these recommendations.
While both offices track the EPA’s implementation of these corrective actions for several years after the recommendation is made, testimony today reveals that the EPA is slow to implement recommendations and there may be a need for these offices to do more to follow-up on open recommendations.
When the EPA does not implement these recommendations, or delays their implementation while continuing to conduct business as usual, the mismanagement at the agency continues and taxpayer dollars are improperly managed.
Most alarmingly, the EPA continues to promulgate regulations that impose huge costs on the U.S. economy and American families while not using proper safeguards.
In the past year alone, the EPA has moved forward with finalizing the Waters of the U.S. rule, the Clean Power Plan, and tightening ozone NAAQs.
These regulations will impose unprecedented costs on American families and the U.S. economy.
Further, two of these regulations are on hold by the courts.
When the EPA finalizes regulations through an improper process without implementing recommendations that would make the process better, the result is bad regulations, and that is what we have seen from this EPA.
Additionally, in the past year the EPA has made headlines with the Gold King Mine spill and the Flint water crisis.
Now more than ever we need the EPA to get back to its core functions rather than pursuing burdensome regulations based on shaky legal ground.
The GAO and the OIG play an important role in this.
Our witnesses today will provide us with an update on the EPA’s progress in implementing recommendations and help us conduct oversight over the EPA’s process for implementing corrective actions.
I am happy to have with us today Alan Larsen, the counsel to the Inspector General of the Environmental Protection Agency, and Alfredo Gomez, the Director of the Natural Resources and Environment Team of the Government Accountability Office.
I’d like to thank our witnesses for being with us today and I look forward to hearing your testimony.