The Hill: Week Ahead: EPA Under Fire For Mine Waste Spill

Posted on Sep 14, 2015

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy is appearing at three Capitol Hill hearings to answer questions about the mine waste spill in Colorado that her agency has taken responsibility for.

The hearings are part of an effort by lawmakers to figure out what went wrong at the Gold King Mine and afterward, who is responsible and how the EPA can prevent it from happening again.

Republicans have attacked the EPA as incompetent and accused officials of holding themselves to a different standard than what they expect of private companies.

The House Natural Resources and Oversight committees will hold a joint hearing Wednesday on the spill.

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and McCarthy will appear, along with representatives of the Navajo Nation and the Southern Ute Indian Tribe.

Later Wednesday, the Senate Indian Affairs Committee with grill McCarthy on the effects of the spill on downstream American Indian communities. Navajo and Southern Ute representatives will speak at the hearing as well.

The next day, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will host a hearing on the spill, where McCarthy will be the sole witness.

Earlier in the week, the House Natural Resources Committee will head south to Louisiana for a hearing on oil and natural gas drilling in the Gulf of Mexico and how federal policies restrict it.

David Vitter and Bill Cassidy, Louisiana’s Republican senators, will testify at the hearing, along with local experts and stakeholders, and Lars Herbst, the regional director for the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement.

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will gather Thursday for a hearing about potential reauthorization and changes to the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act. The law governs recreation on federal lands, mainly those managed by the National Park Service, the Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Land Management and the Forest Service.

Off Capitol Hill, McCarthy and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will speak at a conference organized by Growth Energy, an ethanol group, on Tuesday.

Vice President Biden is flying to Southern California on Wednesday for a pair of energy-related events.

He’ll give a speech at the Solar Power International conference in Anaheim, the largest industry event in North America. Later that day, he’ll speak at the U.S.-China Climate Leaders Summit in Los Angeles.

John Holdren, director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, will speak at a Center for Strategic and International Studies event Wednesday on the role of science and research in understanding the Arctic.

Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Angus King (I-Maine), co-chairmen of the Senate Arctic Caucus, will also participate in the event.