U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), senior member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, questioned William Charles McIntosh and Peter C. Wright, nominees to be Assistant Administrators at the Environmental Protection Agency at an EPW hearing yesterday.
Inhofe: In northeastern Oklahoma, we have a thing called Tar Creek. I think you're familiar with that, it could be characterized as the most devastating Superfund site of any time. It has fifty million tons of mine, waste, and miles of underground mines. It's something we've been working on, working in cooperation with the EPA and primarily it’s the Quapaw tribe. We have a number of Native American tribes in Oklahoma, the Quapaw’s own the land where this Superfund site was so they have taken it over. They’re working it well, working with the EPA.
One of the problems we're having though is that the Quapaw tribe has run into a barrier called the Bureau of Indian Affairs that has made it very difficult for the tribe to sell the chat on their lands while other land owners can.
If confirmed, this just takes a yes or no question on this, as Assistant Administrator will you work with the tribe and the BIA to explore ways to simplify the process for chat sales so that the tribe can re-enter the market and sell their chat as others are doing?
Inhofe: Thank you very much. Now I would ask, also, that Oklahoma enter into their own agreement to clean up the non-tribal land, but they find that the EPA can be a little inflexible when it comes to the remediation that's being handled.
For example, the EPA will not allow the topsoil to be replaced once contaminated soil is removed. This severely limits their opportunities. Can I get your commitment to ensure the tribes wishes for how their land is remediated is given the proper weight and consideration?
McIntosh: Yes, Senator.
Inhofe: I appreciate that very much. Mr. Wright, you've heard this thing, can I get your commitment too, that the tribes considerations for the condition that they want their land to be given the weight that it deserves?
Inhofe: I appreciate that very much and I believe that pretty much handles that. I do want to respond. I think it’s very appropriate, it happens that the Ranking Member, Senator Carper, is a friend of mine, but when you folks are coming up, you've been recommended by Scott Pruitt, the Administrator of the EPA, who went through hours and hours of antagonizing questions.
Normally, you'd get questions for the record averaging about 25 with each nominee going through a confirmation process. He had 1600 that he had to answer and I have to say this, I’m going to take the statement that was made by Senator Carper, excuse my voice this morning. First of all, he was talking about the New York Times story and that was the very first thing that I heard, the accusation against Scott Pruitt. New York Times has never been a conservative publication, we all know that and several things that they said were actually wrong. We have documented that they were wrong. Individuals that came up, that were mentioned in that story were individuals who have been unblemished, never had anything negative said about them. One is Bob Funk, a very wealthy individual who is a real free enterpriser.
The costly trips overseas at taxpayers’ expense: it’s a lie. Just an outrageous lie. They talk about Morocco and Italy. He had to go, Scott Pruitt had to go to Morocco because that was his job. He had to represent, along with his counter-parts from seven other countries, to be there, because they were dealing with chapters of the free trade agreement that have to do with the environment. That was his job, he had to be there. He was there at government expense the same as his predecessor had been to these same meetings.
The G-7 meeting in Italy, the same thing, he had to be there because all seven of his counter-parts had to be at this meeting. If he had not been there, he would have been guilty of dereliction of his own duty.
On sporting ticket events, this is so outrageous. They talk about the University of Kentucky basketball game where he went with his son and about the Rose Bowl. Well, he actually went through the process of going to ethics and saying I want to do this, I want to pay for my own tickets and will you tell me what to do so I'm not violating anything. In both cases, they said you just have to pay for your own tickets and disclose that you are there. He did that, paid for his own tickets to the Rose Bowl, paid for his own tickets, his ticket and his son's ticket, to the Kentucky game.
You know, only in Washington can you get by with allegations against somebody and not give them a chance to respond. This is first response you’ve probably heard of this. It's been all over the papers now for a year. The secure phone booth. One of the first calls he got when he took office was from the President of the United States and the first question they asked: “Is this a secure phone?” Well, obviously it wasn’t a secure phone and so he went and asked them to see whatever is necessary to come up with a secure phone and they would do it.
The fifth thing I want to mention, while missing the vote, is the security cost. The fact that the security, his security, has been around $3 million in the first year. Now the reason is that Administrator Pruitt is the first one in my memory, and I’ve been around here for 32 years, the first one who's ever had any type of threat on his or her life, of all the administrators that we've had. And he has been threatened over and over and over again.
Just earlier this month, Occupy Wall Street, that’s a liberal group that doesn’t like him— probably funded I would say by Tom Steyer—posted his home address in Tulsa and encouraged their followers to take a pitch fork at him. In other words, gave his home address and told them to go molest his family. Can you believe that's happening? Have you heard it before? No, you haven’t.
His daughter, they brought his daughter into this saying somehow the accusation was that she only got into UVA because of Pruitt asking an old friend from the Virginia House of Delegates to write a letter of recommendation. That’s outrageous. I know this girl, she was an intern for me. She’s brilliant, she’s an honor student. Law schools were trying to recruit her to come in and she actually was invited to come into the law school at the UVA before he was even in office.
So this is the type of outrageous lies that you hear in Washington and people don’t have a chance to respond to them. With that, Senator Rounds is presiding.