Tulsa World: Inhofe requests a pledge for Tar Creek

Tulsa World

Inhofe requests a pledge for Tar Creek

by: JIM MYERS World Washington Bureau
Thursday, January 15, 2009
1/15/2009 2:58:28 AM

Link to Article

WASHINGTON - U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe asked EPA administrator nominee Lisa Jackson for a public commitment Wednesday to finish the Tar Creek buyouts and an ultimate cleanup of the huge Superfund site.

"Since the early 1980s, EPA has ranked this site as one of the most severe sites in the country," the Oklahoma Republican said in remarks prepared for Jackson's confirmation hearing.

"We have made tremendous progress over the past number of years to put together a coordinated remediation plan and provide assistance to the residents of the area," Inhofe said.

Jackson, President-elect Barack Obama's choice to take over the Environmental Protection Agency, acknowledged Inhofe's role at Tar Creek.

She specifically mentioned the subsidence study that led him to support the ongoing relocation effort.

She suggested that the lessons learned at Tar Creek could be applied to other sites.

Inhofe and Jackson discussed Tar Creek privately before Wednesday's hearing by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

In an interview, Inhofe said he was satisfied with their discussion.

With the relocation effort as much as "95 percent'' completed, Inhofe's focus has turned to what the agency will do next in addressing the pollution that remains at the massive site in far northeastern Oklahoma.

"That's going to be a major, major thing," he said. "We are going to stay on that."

Inhofe also urged Jackson to protect property rights and states' rights as EPA chief.

During a question-and-answer period, Jackson kept most of her comments general in nature by promising to work with all members of the committee on the various issues confronting them.

She responded to Inhofe's comments on a carbon tax versus a cap-and-trade system for addressing greenhouse gases by saying Obama campaigned on a cap-and-trade approach to regulation.

Several Democrats on the committee used Jackson's confirmation hearing to heap criticism on the EPA under President Bush.

Sen. Barbara Boxer, D- Calif., the panel's chairwoman, said the agency has strayed from its mission of protecting the public's health and needs to be "awakened from a deep and nightmarish sleep.''

Jackson, who has led the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, assured the committee that she will use science as her guide.

"Science must be the backbone of what EPA does," she said.