The chairman of the House Science Committee on Thursday accused Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy of overseeing an agency that has exhibited a "pattern of obstruction."
Rep. Lamar Smith for the past two years has sought data used in EPA rule-makings that McCarthy said would reveal personally identifiable information. But Smith contends the agency can scrub the data of personal information. He also said the agency wasn't cooperating with a subpoena for data and other personal records, such as alleged communication through texting.
"If we're not going to agree, then I regret that. But I believe it will make the EPA look bad," the Texas Republican said during the largely hostile House Science, Space and Technology hearing.
McCarthy, however, reiterated that the studies in question followed people throughout several years and that "they are so filled with personal information that it would be impossible to redact that." She also said the agency was cooperating with the committee's requests. She said that since Jan. 1, the EPA has sent more than 15,000 pages of documents, held 10 conference calls and issued 13 written responses to satisfy 10 letters and a subpoena from the committee.
The panel didn't agree that the agency has been forthcoming. At one point, Smith half-joked about the possibility of another subpoena.
The committee hasn't traditionally been pleasant for the EPA. It has accused the agency of conducting "secret science" for several years. Little goodwill exists between the GOP panel members and McCarthy, who was visibly irritated throughout the hearing.
Rep. Frank Lucas, R-Okla., made a passing reference to President Obama as a "king" from whom the House must protect their constituents with regard to environmental and climate regulations. Later in the hearing, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., called McCarthy "a little naive" when the EPA chief said she hadn't personally worked with any scientists who disregarded certain data to achieve a desired outcome.
Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, D-Texas, the panel's top Democrat, defended the agency.
"I want to encourage you to not let the investigative theater of this hearing get to you," she told McCarthy.