November 23, 2011
Matt Dempsey Matt_Dempsey@epw.senate.gov (202) 224-9797
Katie Brown Katie_Brown@epw.senate.gov (202) 224-2160
EPA Office of Inspector General Report Reveals EPA Slow-Walking Review for Appalachian Surface Mine Permits
Washington, D.C. - Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, commented on a report by the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Office of Inspector General (OIG) entitled "Congressionally Requested Information on the Status and Length of Review for Appalachian Surface Mining Permit Applications," which was released today.
The report reveals that of the 185 permits the EPA IG report indentified, only 56 have been approved. That is less than 1/3 of the total permits. Further at least 1/3 of the permits have been withdrawn that were submitted. Almost half of the 185 permits have taken at least 731 days to evaluate. By EPA's own average it should take 144 days to process these permits. This report was requested by Senator Inhofe in October 2010.
"The report released today by the EPA Office of Inspector General confirms my concerns that EPA, through its own actions, is systematically slowing the pace of permit evaluations in Appalachia," Senator Inhofe said. "Even more troubling is that as our nation works to find ways to cut our national debt, EPA has increased its budget and staff to evaluate these permits.
"Instead of spending more and more taxpayer dollars to wage this war on affordable energy, the Obama-EPA should be processing and approving these permits to spur job creation, especially in areas such as the Appalachia that have significant employment needs. Equally important is the potential domestic energy production that these permits would provide.
"Unfortunately, this report proves that the regulated community cannot depend on the Obama EPA to have an open and transparent permit process. EPA has a job to do and they need to do it. But taking 731 days to complete a 144 task only further demonstrates the Obama Administration's determination to shut down the development of our vast domestic fossil fuels."