Environmental Protection Agency tells Congress it lost emails too
June 26th, 2014
02:24 AM ET
6 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. ProudDem

    Oh for the love of god.....the federal government has IT systems that none of us would be caught dead with. They are decades out of date. No one will spend any money to update them, yet we expect the same performance out of them that we're all used to. The IRS "scandal" about crashing hard drives...and congress is looking to cut hundreds of millions MORE from their budget. Make up your minds about what you want.

    June 26, 2014 02:35 am at 2:35 am |
  2. Thomas


    Why is it emails are deleted ?

    June 26, 2014 03:11 am at 3:11 am |
  3. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    Ok get rid of the EPA idiots, you'll definitely be sorry. These Republikkkans are pathetic. We need the EPA. But I'm sure, President Obama is behind this too.

    June 26, 2014 06:04 am at 6:04 am |
  4. sandcanyongal

    I should be possible for the biologist or whoever had the information to resubmit the data or to bring the person(s) to a facility to take sworn testimony. And why are emails the only source of gathering data without back ups.

    June 26, 2014 06:18 am at 6:18 am |
  5. jboh

    I wonder who owns the mining project, and how much they contributed to TEA/GOP candidates.

    June 26, 2014 06:25 am at 6:25 am |
  6. Marie MD

    Love it!
    This is what congress needs a little bit of. A taste of their own ridiculous medicine.
    The teaklans want to get rid of the EPA so that their buddies in the oil and coal industries can make more money and they can get more under the table.

    June 26, 2014 06:34 am at 6:34 am |
  7. Free Man in the Repiblic of Texas

    Environmental Protection Agency tells Congress it lost emails too


    Resistance is futile.
    You will be assimilated
    into "The Collective"

    The NEW Freedom
    Fundamental Transformation

    You MUST remember that the
    Lib / Progressive / Democrat
    is justified by
    ANY and ALL means.

    Remember... You can't fire us. PERIOD
    Hope and Change
    Yes WE Can

    June 26, 2014 07:10 am at 7:10 am |
  8. yolanda

    This is getting better and better. Two agencies that already warm the cockles of one's heart now saying that the dog ate their homework. I have no idea about the veracity of their claims, but watching the machinations of both sides as this plays out will be pure entertainment. Let the theatrics begin!!!

    June 26, 2014 07:13 am at 7:13 am |
  9. bill

    CHICAGO CHICAGO THAT WONDERFUL TOWN–MAYOR DALY WOULD BE PROUD OF HIS LITTLE OBAMAITES. this cancer that has infected the entire obama WH is spreading like all cancers that go unchecked. this is so sad for America-study the book of Kings in the old testament and you will see what is happening today with the smell comiing out of this WH. IT WAS THE COMPUTER'S FAULT.

    June 26, 2014 07:23 am at 7:23 am |
  10. ZuluAlpha

    The dog ate my homework. If we were given access to all of the records we actually need to go through, the pile would dwarf Mt, Etna, After looking through the pile we'd come to one conclusion. We need keepers.

    June 26, 2014 07:40 am at 7:40 am |
  11. Stop wasting time

    Lost emails happen all the time.

    June 26, 2014 07:44 am at 7:44 am |
  12. MaryM

    Losing emails is not unusual. The IT department was upgrading the server and lost a lot of emails from my company

    June 26, 2014 07:54 am at 7:54 am |
  13. Name JK. SFL. THE GOP HOWDEE GOWDEE SHOW with special guest ISSA the CLOWN

    Let the worthless GOP waste MORE taxpayers money for another MEANINGLESS FAIRY TALE hunt. GOP voters must want more of the same OBSTRUCTION if you keep voting for these GOP LOSERS and must be LOSERS THEMSELVES ?????

    June 26, 2014 08:02 am at 8:02 am |
  14. Rick McDaniel

    More coverups of law breaking.

    June 26, 2014 08:15 am at 8:15 am |
  15. old age voter

    There is a level of corruptions here that exceeds everything in the past; it’s time for criminal charges and people to go to prison. Where is Nancy Pelosi running to the cameras complaining about this level of corruptions?

    June 26, 2014 08:17 am at 8:17 am |
  16. 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.

    June 26, 2014 08:19 am at 8:19 am |
  17. Rudy NYC

    Funding. Most of the computers that were used by many businesses four years ago are obsolete today, because their decade old, Windows XP operating systems are no longer supported. The newer, more secure operating system do not run on most of the older 32-bit XP machines because the newer operating systems are designed to run on the newer generation of 64-bit machines. I'll say it again. Funding.

    Are businesses still using the older XP machines? No doubt they are, by the tens of thousands. Are their any government agencies that are still using the older XP machines and decade old servers? No doubt they are. Are these older machines experiencing hardware failures? No doubt they are, by the thousands. Is the cost of upgrading significant? Yes, in both money and time.

    June 26, 2014 08:25 am at 8:25 am |
  18. 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.

    June 26, 2014 08:37 am at 8:37 am |
  19. Hector Slagg

    Do you realize the whole Obama Administration is about to get lost on the trash heap of history?

    June 26, 2014 08:51 am at 8:51 am |
  20. Phyllis G Williams

    Senator – ARE YOU GOD?

    "Thus saith THE LORD that made thee, and formed thee from the womb (Isaiah 44:2)
    "Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: IT IS ABOMINATION (Leviticus 18: 22).
    ALL fallen angels, SODOM, GOMORRHA, go to "the vengeance of ETERNAL FIRE" (Jude 1: 6-7).
    You must employ them (Genesis 3: 19) but if you Love them you will warn them (Ezekiel 3: 18).

    (See Leviticus 20: 13; Genesis 19: 24 "Fire & Brimstone"; Romans 1: 22 ; Matthew 19: 17-
    "If thou wilt enter into LIFE, KEEP THE COMMANDMENTS").
    "The Commandment of THE EVERLASTING GOD, made known to ALL NATIONS for the
    OBEDIENCE of faith (Romans 16: 26)(Isaiah 8: 20 ; 10: 1)


    June 26, 2014 08:59 am at 8:59 am |
  21. Lynda/Minnesota

    "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."

    OK. Enough is enough. Issa himself went public years ago to explain why the Bush Administration lost millions of emails. If anything, Issa has become out of control with his demands (28 years backtracking with his currents threats against Lois Lerner). If Congress wants to allocate funding for a complete upgrade of Federal workers computer technology, I'm all for it. If not, let the witch-hunts stop. At this point, Issa is threatening private citizens no longer employed by the federal government under his "control".

    June 26, 2014 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  22. monkeebizns

    It is becoming more and more apparent that our government agencies are full of inept personnel, the VA, the IRS and now the EPA where does it stop. Nixon must be laughing his a-s off wishing they had e-mails back in the day of Watergate!

    June 26, 2014 09:02 am at 9:02 am |
  23. Lynda/Minnesota

    @ 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.

    Issa is demanding 28 years of Lois Lerners emails, smith. Long before she held the position she held in 2009. I remember when email was first introduced into the business environment I worked in as a corporate secretary. No doubt the federal government is still using many of the systems put in play back then. Could that corporation still access my email account back then? Absolutely not. Issa himself had to explain millions of lost emails during the Bush years.

    This is a non issue that will get much traction depending on the thought process going in (and being regurgitated back out). But it matters only to those looking for whatever it is their looking for as a talking point.

    June 26, 2014 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  24. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    Why on earth does Issa need 28 years worth of emails? What could he possibly be looking for? This simply tells me he has nothing but won't stop looking. And a government agency with the most updated computer systems... Please. Their systems are old as dirt.

    June 26, 2014 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  25. S.B. Stein

    Issa is too ready to whip it out... Contempt charges I mean. If the e-mails are located solely on a local hard drive, then there needs to be a policy to have back up done once a week to a secured server that the National Archived administers to avoid losses like this.

    June 26, 2014 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
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