From the good ol’ days when John Dingell was free to speak the truth about EPA.
The news report is below.
EPA chief meets with Congress
May 7, 1993, St. Petersburg Times (Florida)
It was the second meeting in as many weeks between a Clinton administration Floridian and Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich. But this time there were no fights, no cameras and no need for an office visit the next day to patch things up.
In fact, Environmental Protection Agency administrator Carol Browner came to Conyers’ Government Operations subcommittee for a promotion. The Senate overwhelmingly voted on Tuesday to give the EPA cabinet status, and indications are that eventually the House will, too.
The move is not without controversy. EPA has been rife with abuse, and top appointive positions remain unfilled. “It is ironic that we are considering EPA elevation legislation when there are very few people to elevate,” said Rep. William Clinger, R-Pa.
But Browner came in for none of the personal blame that Conyers vainly tried to fix on Attorney General Janet Reno in last week’s hearing on the Waco cult deaths. Reno showed up Conyers so thoroughly that he paid a make-up call to the former Miami prosecutor the next morning.
Browner, who formerly headed Florida’s Department of Environmental Regulation, beat Conyers to a pet subject: “environmental justice,” or the concentration of landfills and other hazards near poor people’s homes. She promised that concern would permeate every decision her agency makes.
Browner already was on record as being appalled by the mismanagement documented in the audits and investigative reports that stood more than a foot high on the desk of Rep. John Mica, R-Winter Park. Mica called the reports “the most disturbing… I’ve ever seen, and I served in the Florida Legislature.”
Browner also said she welcomed the reorganization lawmakers said must come with a Department of the Environment. As in the Senate version, the House bill would establish an independent bureau of environmental statistics to provide data that too often has been unreliable.
“EPA has operated on the basis of ‘cooked science,’ said Energy and Commerce chairman John Dingell, D-Mich.
The bill also would put teeth into efforts to crack down on contractors the agency hires to do much of its work. “The basic problem is they don’t audit,” Dingell said. “The contractors run the place.”
Dingell, whose committee has investigated the EPA, said contractors have been put in charge of opening mail and of paying themselves. One tried to charge taxpayers for the rental of a reindeer suit.
If he had his way, he said, the agency would not become the 15th Cabinet department.
“It’s probably better… to tell them to clean house and then come on back up here and we’ll talk about whether you ought to be a Cabinet department,” he said. “But this thing has a head of steam that I don’t think will be stopped.”