As the House Oversight Committee met to look into what steps the Environmental Protection Agency took in relation to a gold and copper mine in Alaska, EPA administrator Gina McCarthy admitted that some of the information and emails they are seeking were “lost” in another of the Obama administration’s many “hard drive crashes.”
The admission prompted Rep. Kerry Bentivolio (R-MI) to ask, “What is it with bureaucrats and public employees…the hard drives crash?”
The EPA’s McCarthy went on to tell the committee that she wasn’t sure if the information they are seeking could be recovered, but she assured committee members that she is “still hoping we recovered all those emails.”
In response to repeated questioning about the “crashed hard drive,” McCarthy deferred, stating, “We’re having trouble getting information off of it and are trying different ways.”
But the administrator also assured the congressmen that emails of the particular EPA worker being sought may not be too important because the man in question was “not a decision maker” in the process of the EPA’s rulings on the Alaska mines.
McCarthy’s appearance before the House committee came on the same day that it was revealed that employees were relieving themselves in the hallways in the EPA’s Denver office instead of using the bathrooms provided for that purpose.
The EPA has been awash in scandals. Last year, it was discovered that an EPA official was playing spy games, claiming to be a member of the CIA while he defrauded the environmental office of millions of tax dollars.
Then there was the case of EPA workers in a Landover, Maryland, warehouse using stored office furnishings to create little “man caves” so that they could sleep, lift weights, and watch TV while on the job.
But those two are piddling compared to a bigger EPA scandal, this one also involving emails. In 2013, it was discovered that then-outgoing EPA chief Lisa Jackson, in violation of the law, was using false names and secret email accounts to conduct agency business. In violation of federal record-keeping and disclosure requirements, Jackson apparently created the false name and the secret email accounts to carry on the sort of EPA business she didn’t want people to find out about.
Further, only a month ago, it was learned that, like the harassment perpetrated by the IRS, the EPA also targeted conservative groups.
This mining inquiry, though, isn’t the only investigation that the EPA is stonewalling.
Only a few days ago, House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) threatened the EPA with contempt charges for refusing to hand over its email exchanges with the White House that have been subpoenaed in an investigation into whether the President and his staff interfered in how the agency fulfilled congressional oversight inquiries.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at email@example.com.