Environmental Protection Agency tells Congress it lost emails too
June 26th, 2014
02:24 AM ET
5 years ago

Environmental Protection Agency tells Congress it lost emails too

WASHINGTON (CNN) - One day after focusing on lost e-mails at the IRS, the House Oversight Committee learned Wednesday that the Environmental Protection Agency is also having trouble recovering e-mails the committee wants as part of a separate investigation.

McCarthy: "There is a challenge"     

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy told the Republican-led committee that the agency cannot access some e-mails belonging to a biologist who worked on a controversial mining project assessment. It is a hard drive problem, but McCarthy was careful to not call it a "hard drive crash" or destroyed hard drive.      "I don't believe this is a missing hard drive issue," McCarthy told the panel, "There is a challenge getting access to the data on it... I'm still hoping we recover all those e-mails."

"I heard similar testimony yesterday," replied Rep. Mark Meadows, R-North Carolina, dryly referring to the committee's Tuesday hearing about a critical crashed hard drive at the IRS.

Investigation into mine report

With the EPA, the committee is investigating whether the biologist involved, or anyone else at the agency, colluded with environmentalists to produce a negative assessment of a mining proposal in Alaska. A separate investigation by the agency's inspector general is also underway.

The environmental assessment concluded that the Pebble Mine project could significantly harm the sockeye salmon fishery in Bristol Bay. As a result, in February, the agency essentially froze the permitting process for the mine as it reviews options for the area.

McCarthy insisted the agency is trying to recover the biologists' missing e-mails, but also tried to downplay his role in the mine assessment.

"He's not a decison maker in this process," she said. "He inputed into the science assessment that's been fully peer-reviewed. We have not made any decision on Bristol Bay, we've just taken a first step."

"But he could have colluded..." fired back Meadows.

"Which is why it's important the (inspector general) finish his report," McCarthy replied.

Did the EPA break the law?

Meadows pressed McCarthy on whether the agency broke federal records-keeping law. "Were all his emails preserved according to the Federal Records Act or was a law violated?"

McCarthy answered that the EPA notified the National Archives and Records Administration about the hard drive problem Tuesday.

"I think we have notified the appropriate authorities that we may have some e-mails that we cannot produce that we should have kept."

Issa (re)threatens contempt charge

During the same hearing, Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa, R-California, also demanded that the agency turn over documents that the committee subpoenaed last year.

"You have not complied with the subpoena," he told McCarthy. "I am telling you, the time to comply is now. If it is not complied with... this committee will consider and vote on contempt."

Issa has made this threat to McCarthy before, but indicated Wednesday that he expects a response within days or he is ready to act on the contempt charge.

By the end of the hearing, McCarthy and Issa agreed to let their staffs work behind the scenes.

"I hope that over the next few days our folks and your folks can resolve this with all the e-mails," Issa concluded.


Filed under: Darrell Issa • EPA • Gina McCarthy
soundoff (103 Responses)
  1. Lynda/Minnesota

    tom l
    Over 3/4 of Americans feel that the IRS deliberately destroyed the emails. Over 60% of dems think that. The gang? Not so much. They still are defending the I.R.S.

    Garbage in, garbage out. 30% of Americans still think the sun revolves around the earth. Which carries more significance? In both instances, folks are being mislead.

    June 26, 2014 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  2. Brian

    The credibility of this administration seems to be less and less each day. Either they are that crooked, or they are so far behind the times that using gmail would be a huge improvement. Not good considering the climate change push right now.

    June 26, 2014 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  3. Malory Archer

    Brian
    The credibility of this administration seems to be less and less each day. Either they are that crooked, or they are so far behind the times that using gmail would be a huge improvement. Not good considering the climate change push right now.

    +++++++++++++++++++++++

    I know, right! EVERYBODY should be able to come up with 28 years worth of emails on demand!

    June 26, 2014 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  4. Tone

    Brian

    The credibility of this administration seems to be less and less each day. Either they are that crooked, or they are so far behind the times that using gmail would be a huge improvement. Not good considering the climate change push right now.

    No,you mean the credibility of the gop i got a scandal machine lead by issa is getting less and, less each day. You guys are easily lead by crooks I feel sorry for gop voters can't think for yourselves.

    June 26, 2014 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  5. Keith ..... in Oregon

    These agencies are a reflection of their leader .... corrupt, arrogant, believing themselves above the law.

    June 26, 2014 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  6. sonny chapman

    The IRS, VA & now EPA are being shown to be technologically challenged. Some Repubs. LIKE the Fed. Govt. to be like that. It feeds their Version of Life. Govt. CAN'T do ANYTHING right. Dems., who believe a Fed. Govt. has a purpose in this ever changing World, need to step up & show that, with the Right People(no Heck of a Job Brownies) Govt. can improve the life of the Middle Class, even a little.

    June 26, 2014 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  7. freedom

    Ask any IT department – emails cannot be lost – unless the hard drives crash. The government doesn't have back-up for their hard drives? What are we paying taxes for – incompetence and negligence – and in many cases under this administration – criminal acts? This cycle needs to end.

    June 26, 2014 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  8. smith

    @Lynda-Sorry, but the systems are outdated doesn`t fly with me. Simply because its the agencies job to get the systems up to date.

    June 26, 2014 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  9. just asking

    we have total incompetents or corrupt criminals or a mixture of the two running the federal government. and this is the very same government the democrats wants to use to control and run your healthcare with their single payer disaster!

    it is very clear there needs to be mass firings as the federal government clearly has major problems. problems that in the va case is even costing veterans their lives as people get bonuses. we have plenty of people that need jobs. let the firings begin.

    June 26, 2014 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  10. guest

    who is driving this investigation, is a private company acting in collusion with the GOP to have this investigation at all? Where are the emails proving that there was no collusion between private interests and this committee? I demand the emails mr. issa or the country is going to hold you in contempt.

    June 26, 2014 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  11. Stuffitu

    How many of these crooks are unionized? The "I lost the e mails" is apparently the new political mantra of the corrupt democrat liberal party. 85% of VA workers are unionized which explains the lackadaisical performance of that organization.

    June 26, 2014 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  12. Lynda/Minnesota

    smith
    @Lynda-Sorry, but the systems are outdated doesn`t fly with me. Simply because its the agencies job to get the systems up to date.

    No, I don't suppose it does fly with you. I'm a bit older than you and remember things for how they were back when the internet thingy first started. No doubt were I to drag out my manual typewriter, I couldn't get through to the internet no matter how hard I try to update the darn thing.

    I'm chalking it up to we agree to disagree ... yes?

    June 26, 2014 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  13. Silence DoGood

    Government agencies are sometimes inept in inefficient. This has been a standing joke for decades in the whole world.
    That this translates into a new shocking *gasp* crime scene is a conservative fantasy witch hunt.

    June 26, 2014 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  14. Tone

    I Got Something You Can Sniff

    Lol! Worse excuse than "the dog are my homework". Just another fine example of the corrupt nature of Obama's "most transparent Administration in history".

    The gop strategy when in doubt blame the President it is getting old, by reading the headings on this site i can almost predict some of the comments coming from the right how pathetic. What ever you are sniffing is messing with your brain cells, and no thank you i do not want to sniff what you are sniffing.

    June 26, 2014 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  15. smith

    @Lynda-Pretty much. I come from a computer family (three programmers). So I base opinions on that matter from them.

    June 26, 2014 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  16. Lynda/Minnesota

    smith
    @Lynda-Pretty much. I come from a computer family (three programmers). So I base opinions on that matter from them.

    Oh, dear. Is this the part where I try and one up you with my own family members who are themselves programmers, including the nephew who spent time in Iraq updating military computer systems?

    Nah. I'll let you have the last word.

    June 26, 2014 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  17. Tony D

    And this from the very same government that will destroy your life in an audit if you do not have all the paperwork they demand. But what are the consequences to them for their incompetence and/or corruption? NADA, ZILCH, ZIP. They will get their bonuses, instead of being fired. Unionized government workers needs TO BE STOPPED. All incompetents need to be FIRED. Our tax dollars are paying for this clown show. And every year they want more and more of our money FOR THIS?!!

    June 26, 2014 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  18. Rudy NYC

    smith

    @Lynda-Sorry, but the systems are outdated doesn`t fly with me. Simply because its the agencies job to get the systems up to date.
    ------------------
    Funding. Haven't you ever heard of funding before? It's the Congress' job to ensure the agencies have the funding to get up to date. But, noooooooo. The House has been run the slash and burn crowd since 2011.

    June 26, 2014 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  19. smith1

    oh no another scandal so that the stupid repos can sit around and spend the tax payers money on yet another investigation that will go nowhere but keep them from doing the work they should be doing. Vote these clowns out why are we paying their salaries when they refuse to do any work?. Just sit around and get their faces on CNN . Put a mike in front of them and they go bonkers spouting nonsense, Listening to that crook Issa makes you want to throw up.

    June 26, 2014 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  20. rs

    Working in a paperless environment, your history(records, e-mails, etc.) are only as good as your record management requirements and your system back-ups. On Issa's request for 28 years of records, I seriously doubt any of those would be considered "permanent" and were likely destroyed after 6 years- as the probably should have been. As to my computer ate the e-mail- well it happens. Without e-dark archives, cloud backup or other systems in place, a hard drive or server crash could destroy records. We lost $1.5 million in records when a server failed and a back-up was performed. Life in the modern age.

    Meanwhile, it does well to remind the conspiracy theorists (once again), Ms. Lerner is a Republican, appointed by a Republican; she did not target just TEA Party groups, she targets as many on the Left; of the two groups ALL of the TEA Party organizations got their 501(c)4 status, many on the Left did not. Finally, many of those TEA Party groups have already relinquished their 501 (c)4 status- having gone out of business.

    June 26, 2014 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  21. Rudy NYC

    smith

    This is just getting out of hand, we either have corruption or we have dumb. The IRS, VA, ATF, and the EPA are like a bunch of wild kids. Where are the parents?(ie-the Obama Admin.) Maybe instead of taking selfies with hollywood folks they should focus on their duties.
    --------------------------------
    Yup, I agree with you. We have dumb and corruption.

    IRS – The center of the investigation is Republican Bush appointee.
    VA – Every number I see regarding mistreated veterans covers the years 2001-2011. It began under Bush.
    ATF – Another "False and Frivolous" scandal, one which began under Bush.
    EPA – They cannot upgrade the "back office" without adequate funding.

    BTW, I haven't defended the lost data and emails. That's your broad brush at work again. I think that they should have copies of everything, as required by law. But, I also feel that they cannot comply with the law without sufficient funding.

    June 26, 2014 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  22. Lynda/Minnesota

    @ Tony D: And this from the very same government that will destroy your life in an audit if you do not have all the paperwork they demand.

    I've been audited. All that was required of me was to call the number listed on the mailing and inquire to where the mistake was made. Indeed. The lady I spoke with was quite helpful, never intimidating. It took a few minutes to get through; we discussed the discrepancy, and the matter was resolved. No guns. No threats. No congressional hearings.

    June 26, 2014 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  23. smith

    @Lynda-No one up intended just saying I get my opinions from as far as emails. Personally, I just know how to play on the net.( I was the oddball of the family)

    June 26, 2014 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  24. it must be said

    Rudy NYC
    Funding. Haven't you ever heard of funding before? It's the Congress' job to ensure the agencies have the funding to get up to date. But, noooooooo. The House has been run the slash and burn crowd since 2011.
    -–

    Yup... that bare bones $3.5 TRILLION bureaucracy is just starving for money! But their bonuses sure keep flowing don't they? All those millions spent on conference boondoogles! But just can't afford new computers? Next joke!

    June 26, 2014 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  25. Jay Walker

    Pathetic rightwing hypocrisy. All of the same crap goes on under Republican administrations, but under a Dem prez, it's crucifixion time. Does that make it ok? No. But wasting money on fruitless investigations does not get to the root of the problem. No one needs to fabricate info on why certain mining operations pose dangers to the environment. It's common sense by now. It's also no secret that Big Industry has been trying to destroy the EPA siince it's inception, under a Republican president no less. Proof of how far to the right government has been pulled since then.

    June 26, 2014 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
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