EPA Administrator on 2019 Budget Request CSPAN May 16, 2018 9:30am-11:46am EDT
good morning everyone. id like to begin by welcoming our witnesses today. we welcome back to the committee administrator pruitt. thank you for coming back before the sub committee. just a reminder colleagues will follow the early bird rule here. we'll have six minute rounds of questions. there will be substantial interest this morning. i ask members to try to stick with a time limit. we can do multiple rounds.
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you, i see some on the ground kpa examples of very good things, some good programs that you're bucket is proposing to substantially reduce or has proposed to eliminate. our vil ajs will have cleaner water. it is what we fund today help communities that need basic water infrastructure. these are cuts that i can't support. so i want to in full disclosure
highlight those. as i mentioned in last year appropriations hearing and as played out the azwren si's look a like this pro pass sal while there is a that we to closely nl every time to make sure we people's exhibit would make it difficult to carry out their work. i will focus my efforts on restoring proposed cuts to state grant programs and to programs like the alaska nate i have villages. all of which have a direct impact on ensuring human health.
you to implement the budget that congress provides. we would anticipate you would do so again. as a close i again, want to thank you for the work that you have committed to us on some notably lower profile issues that only effect alaska. my poor colleague from new mexico has to listen to me talk about fish waste grinding and snaul remote incinerators. so these are areas that areover great concern to a state like mine. i thank you for adme committee. i durn to administrator prui
another republican epa mayor daley minute straiter said skt pruitt is unfit to run because he lacks ethical integrity, a quality that is of the utmost importance when trusted with protecting the environment and public health. there is nothing i could say here today that would come close to having such esteemed formal officials chastise you like that. i will do my best because it needs to be heard. your tenures bsh and such abuses sl they are invest gaying you
taken quick actions to help political donors and lobbiests. one has already been completed, one i personally requested. i have a lot of questions for you today on this topic because one month later you haven't followed the law. and now you have the statutorily reports on all of your other office spending as we sit here today trying to get to the bottom of your reckless spending. i just requested a new gao fgs anything by engaging if whether
the april 13th tweet. it is by public employees. these two investigations into epa's single tweet encapsule late a running theme. while your scandals splash from front pages you have been hard at work dismantled core. you backed away from our his store ral to increase the impact. you managed to distord an
the public health is a disgrace. the fiscal year 2019 budget proposal is another giant blinking sign you don't take your response possibility. the request cuts nearly 50% of funds sent directly to the states. for example the budget proposes to eliminate state funding for poisoning prevention. hield thood lard es -- this is flat out abandon m. the request proposes to cut off our multi-year effort to support
monitoring of the contaminated water still flowing from the woeld anyone the more than you are reported spending on your security detail. and your promises in this room a year ago to make sure the navajo and others harmed by the gold king mine spill are properly compensated have fallen completely flat. not one payment has been made. the budget also proposes to give polluters a pass by cutting criminal and civil enforcement by a quarter. the budget backs off entirely from virtually all climate programs, including voluntary coordination, international partnerships, and basic monitoring. i'm not surprised to see that you even proposed to cut epa's inspector general by 10%. i support slowing down their work might sound a peeling.
administrator pruitt, the budget request before us today is dead on arrival because it would pull out the rug from underneath every single state in our country and decimate critical public health and environmental programs. this budget request is also dead on arrival because it completely -- it is completely tone deaf to reality. this bipartisan congress has maintained steady funding for epa, for the last two years running. and even boosted water infrastructure, investments, and lead reduction programs, despite the administration's draconian proposals to shrink the agency into on, bolivian. i'm not wary -- on, bolivian. i'm not worried that this congress will make drastic cuts to the operating budget flare oce-- budget or that we are going to cut off support to the states. what i am worried about,
administrator pruitt, is that you have been treating your position in public trust to extravagant travel and fine dining and a platform to keys p to meal personality, political donors, and polluters. i'm worried you're enriching yourself and your friends while betraying your mission to protect human health and the environment. i look forward to our discussion today. glad to see that senator leahy has joined us, the ranking member. thank you, madam chairman. >> thank you, senator. senator leahy, as ranking member of the committee, you're certainly welcome to make an opening statement. >> thank you very much. i appreciate the courtesy and what senator udall said. you know, senator shelby and i are -- we've issued a joint statement trying very much to bring the community back to what
both of you have known it in the past. we've issued a schedule now so we can finish every one of these bills marked up in the committee by the end of june. this is obviously an important hearing to review the budget. i have to agree with what senator udall said when i came in about this being a reckless and unrealistic budget. i think what it does, it shows total contempt by you, administrator, and the administration for bedrock environmental safeguards and for the work of epa and the people in there, nonpartisan, hard-working people, to monitor, protect, and conservative our environment, health of all americans. if you attack the core mission, the role of epa, you attack human health. the work of the epa is essential
to ensuring that air and water are clean. our land, our treasured resources, our health are protected from pollutants, toxic chemicals, effects of climate change. administrator, i hear constantly from vermonters, republicans and democrats alike, about a seemingly endless stream of controversies at the epa. it's troubling enough that your personal fundamental mission seems to be undermining the very mission of the agency you are appointed to lead. the embarrassment enthuthese pas have brought are putting the special interests ahead of the well-being of the american people. your toxic agenda to make america more polluted and less safe has extended beyond environmental policy and actually affected the confidence the american people should have in their government.
i think of places like beddington, vermont, a problem with toxic water. now they find that you have sought to block the publication of a public health study on a class of toxic chemicals that have threatened water supplies around the country including beddington. that's unconscionable. to be a parent of a child and waiting for that report and find that you blocked it. it is incomprehensible to the people in beddington and vermont why an agency that works for them, their tax dollars are paying for it, whose charge is to protect the health, turns their back on them and tries to hide health dangers. you've been given a lot of credit for cutting regulations. but the more we study your work and overturn delay regulations, we find yourselvesi inyou're ca
concern with countless lawyers that cost the taxpayers dollars. and with environmental work, you claim they're delaying what you call costly regulations that could save americans a billion dollars. but if you remove protections for public health and the environment, you're costing the american people far more each year in near and long-term health costs. let's extrapolate the course you set for the epa. you flipped the mission of the environmental protection agency on its head. you've done that to protect big polluters. instead of the people by insinuating the size agendas into the work of your size-based agency. to working to eviscerate the very marrow of the epa. the american people are the ones paying the bills with their health, with their wallets, for some with their lives. and their children's lives.
the mission of the epa is simple -- to protect human health and the environment. not to protect industry friends or to give friends from oklahoma tens of thousands of dollars in pay raises in defiance of the white house, not to put polluters first, or to travel first class around the world. incidentally, a vermonter said what a sill reason yy reason yo fly first class because of a danger to you unless you flew first class. he said, nobody even knows who you are. and you go in there, oh, somebody might criticize you. you got security people that we've never seen before, but you have to fly first class. oh, come on. or to use your public office for
private gain. it's run amok. certainly your job is not to weaken or unravel a bedrock environmental law that was put in place by both republicans and democrats alike. you've come before the committee with an indefensible budget proposal. you're trailing a string of ethical lapses. and controversies that are an embarrassment to the agency and embarrassment to republicans and democrats alike. we want and deserve environmental protections that work. not moaned interests buying off -- monied interests buying off the interests of the public health to the highest bidder. that's not something that works. forget about the -- forget about your own ego and your first-class travel and special phone booths and all these things that just make you a
laughingstock and your agency a laughingstock. thank you, madam chairwoman. strong message. >> thank you, senator leahy. administrator pruitt, this is your time before the committee. we welcome your comments, your review of the budget that we have in front of us. thank you for being here. >> good morning, chairman mccowski, ranking udall, vice chairman leahy. it is good to be with you this morning. i look forward to the questions and dialogue this morning. there is consequential and important work being done at the epa since the beginning of the trump administration. both in terms of improved environmental outcomes as well as substantial regulatory reform. we are stripping burdensome costs from the american economy at an unprecedented pace, and we're doing this while inspiring confidence in the american people that their government will work with them, not against them, in achieving the economic growth and stewardship. in the short time in the trump administration, we've made
enormous progress as far as improved environmental outcomes. in 2017 we removed over three times the number of polluted sites of contaminated communities across the country as opposed to the administration. in 2018 we're on pace to remove as many as ten times the number. with regard to states, we are working with them to improve air quality through the approval and the review of 350 state environmental plans and with regard to water, we are leading a multiagency approach to eradicate lead from our drinking water within ten years. largely through the utilization of a tool that you provided. it is my goal to prioritize applications to the process to hopefully seize as much as $4 billion a year going to replacement of lead service lines across the country. the president has set an ambitious agenda with respect to the epa under his administration. and we are achieving those objectives. the president not only tasked us with the purpose of accomplishing our core mission more efficiently and more effectively than before, he also demanded that we approach
comprehensive human beiregulato. the transformational change is happening. in one year the trump administration saved the american people approximately $8 billion in regulatory costs. the epa alone has saved $1 billion of that $ billion. these actions -- $8 billion. these actions provide the regulatory clarity they reserve by repealing and replacing the so-called clean power plant, we're ending a one-size-fits all and rescinding and revising the united states rule, we're ending washington's power grab to land decisions across the country. it is indisputable that we have made enormous progress in advancing the presence of reform agenda while also at the same time achieving better outcomes to the environment. pruning back decades of regulatory reach that was unnecessary, burdensome, and harmful to the hard-working americans across the country. the important work continues. the chairman mentioned my appearance just in the last three or so weeks before the house committee. just in the last three weeks, we have done the following -- we've issued a proposed rule to
strengthen science used in regulations issued by the epa. the rule will ensure that the regulatory science underlying agency action is fully transparent and that underlying scientific information is publicly available in a manner sufficient to independently validate the science. we have created a new office of continuous improvement within epa to implement the lean management system, otherwise known as lms at the agency. lms and continuous improvement will enable agencies for the first time to track important agency actions, to ensure we respond and resolve challenge quickly and thoroughly. prior to this administration, the epa was not systematically or regularly tracking key actions such as permitting, meeting legal deadlines, or correcting environmental violations. with lms and the new office, all parts of the will set ambitious targets for their work, measure results, and improve processes to bridge the gap between targets and results. we proposed a rule prohibiting commercial and consumer paint-stripping use was methlean
chloride following the epa's 2017 proposal that methlean chloride be banned from products. we've issued a memorandum for reviewing the national ambient air-quality standards program under the clean air act to ensure the epa and its independent science advisers follow transparent, timely, and efficient processes in reviewing and revising public health and welfare-based programs. this will bring the epa and its advisers back on track with clean-air act requirements, statutes and timely rules. finally, our commitment to collaborate with the states, tribes, and localities to protect air quality. we have taken the next step in the clean air act process to implement the national air quality standards for ozone from 2015. after designating most of the united states as meeting the standards in november of '17, the agency has completed nearly all remaining area dig assassinations, and -- designations, and we have good news. we have more than 10% meeting zone quality than we did before.
i emphasize that the actions that will improve the efficiency of the epa and lives of americans are only highlights of the epa's achievements in the last month alone. president trump has set a clear and very ambitious agenda for the epa. we're focused on getting those results for the american people. make no mistake, we'll achieve those results and serve the american people effectively with our agenda. i look forward to your questions. >> thank you, administrator. i appreciate you outlining the issues that you have undertaken as an agency to work, again, toward the goals that i think we all recognize are the mission set within the epa -- clean air, clean water. you've heard the very direct comments from my ranking and from the ranking member of the full committee. as i mentioned in my opening, you had an opportunity to field similar criticism in the house
hearing last week or so. that is part of that record. i think we all have had an opportunity to review that. but i would ask you at this point in time if you have anything that you would like to add to that in response to issues that the senators have raised, or if you choose, you may just handle them directly as those questions come from them. i wanted to give you the opportunity to supplement anything at the outset before i move to the more budget-specific questions i have. >> thank you for the opportunity. let me say first and foremost, i understand the concern that has been raised by the ranking, as well as senator leahy, and your comments, as well, chairman. i knew that as i began the process over 16 months ago to lead this agency that the issues would be competitive. there are world views that drive the decisions that we make at
the agency. over the last several years, we've seen a competition with respect to how we should approach our business. first and foremost, we have had some advance in agenda that true environmentalism, and environmental protection is prohibition and not stewardship. one of the things that we've tried focus upon at the agency and what i've tried to focus on is restoring the commitment of recognition that we as a country can be about management of our natural resources, that we can feed the world and power the world with stewardship principles in mind as we advance the agenda. we've made important decisions, chairman, as you know, with respect to the mine situation in alaska. that was a controversial decision that was made. we made a decision based upon the data, the science, and the feedback that was provided by citizens in your state and did what was right there. recently, as i mentioned, the meth leanchloride decision from 2017. i met with individuals impacted
by methanechloride and proceeded with omb. we are making tough decisions with respect to environmental protection while at the same time restoring confidence in the american people that we can engage in regulations and not pick winners and losers and not engage in coercion with our actions. that has brought i think competition and credit simple. i understood that from the -- criticism. i understand that from the beginning. there have been decisions over the last 16 or so months that as i look back i would not make the same decisions again. i'm sure we're going to talk about some of those. some of the areas of criticism are, frankly, areas where processes at the agency were not properly instituted to prevent certain abuse from happening. one as an example, the decision with respect to the phone booth. you mentioned the secure phone line. that was a process that there were not proper controls early to ensure a legal review of the obligation of the tiegs inform congress -- the agency to inform congress and gao. and i started a process shortly after finding out that we investigate that and institute
those controls to ensure that that does not happen again. we'll talk about a number of thoemptz those. as the leader of the agency, one of the things i did shortly after the house meeting is institute a memo for the entire agency that any expenditure over $5,000 that impacts my official duties has to be approved by the cfo, the deputy, and the chief of staff to ensure that all processes are being checked, and there are proper controls in place. i share your concerns about some of these decisions. i want to rectify those going forwardme forwardme forward. i also want to highlight that criticism is unfounded and, i think, exaggerated. i think it feeds this division that we've seen around important issues affecting the environment. we can achieve both, good environmental outcomes and pro-growth policies. it's our commitment, my commitment to achieve that. i look forward to the discussion. >> thank you for that, sir. let me move to a policy initiative i mentioned in my opening statement, the issue
related to the waters of the united states, as we call it around here. i believe strongly that what we had seen under the previous administration with the interpretation was overly expansive. again, i mentioned that when you have 2/3 of your state that is considered wetlands, it would have put even the most routine project in my state to epa scrutiny and delay and possibly no advancement whatsoever. i have been encouraged to examine the regulation and come up with a more sensible proposal. the question for you this morning is what is the status on that in terms of updating the rule? i heard rumbles out there that the time frame for completion may be slipping on this.
can you provide me any updates here? >> as far as the timing, there are two or three actions that we're engaged in as an agency. there was a proposed withdrawal and replacement of the rule that we've talked about, chairman, as well as a rule dealing with the compliance dates for the waters of the united states through 2019. the proposed withdrawal of the rule from 2015 has not been issued yet. there's a supplemental notice that we're likely going to provide to the marketplace to provide additional opportunity for comment. the plan is to finalize the proposal withdrawal sometime in the first to third quarter of the year and have a replacement of the waters of the united states rule by the end of the year as far as the actual finalization of that. i anticipate by the end of this month that we'll have a proposed definition, replacement of the 2015 rule that will go out for a proposal for people to comment
upon. that will begin either late this month, early next month. on that matter, if i might, the waters of the united states rule, the purpose behind it as far as what we heard in 2015 was to provide certainty. that folks across the country needed clarity on where federal jurisdiction began and ended. as we look at what happened in 2015, that did not occur. there was more uncertainty after the publication of the rule as opposed to certainty. we have a job to do. the job is to provide clarity and certainty to the american people. it's not just the withdrawal. it's also the replacement that matters there. >> thank you for that. senator udall? >> thank you, madam chair. administrator pruitt, there's been a deluge of reports about ethical and spending problems in your office. i'd like to give you an opportunity to go on the record confirming or denying some of these reports. in the limited time we have, the
public deserves real answers. do you know how many investigations into your ethics and spending are ongoing as of today? >> well, there are inquiries by the inspector general, as you know, ranking member udall. and there's interaction with the gao as well. as far as the total number, i don't know. i know that those agencies and individuals, offices are involved. >> by my count there are 14 including the inquiry i requested today. and i'm confident the gao will accept. it's 16 if you include the two ongoing reviews by your bosses at the white house and the omb. i would ask consent to submit that list for the record. >> it will be included. >> administrator pruitt, as a former attorney general -- you and i share that responsibility, we didn't serve at the same time. and you're also a law
enforcement official at the epa, do you support special counsel robert mueller completing his investigation? >> i'm sorry, ranking member. investigation into -- >> do you support special counsel robert mueller completing his investigation? >> i think the process is continuing -- >> it's a simple yes or no. >> yeah -- >> do you support him completing his investigation? as a law enforcement official, you've had investigations before. do you support it? >> i think as attorney general it's important for law enforcement, those investigators that serve prosecutors, to be able to provide adequate information to them to make informed decisions when whether to proceed as a prosecutor. i did that as attorney general and trust that would happen at the federal level, as well. >> as you know, the right answer is yes. whenever there's an investigation ongoing, a president or rudy giuliani or anybody else shouldn't be interfering with that investigation, putting time
limits on it or anything else. that's the reality. >> i also -- >> i haven't asked a question, sir. yesterday i requested a gao inquiry into the april 13th tweet from your epa's official account which you mocked democratic senators for their votes opposing the confirmation of an epa official. are you aware appropriations law prohibits federal spending on publicity and propaganda? >> i was unaware of the tweet. that shouldn't have occurred. >> you were unaware? >> there should have been no mocking -- >> you apologize for it? >> the agency should not have done that. >> okay, and you apologize? >> the agency shouldn't have done it. >> do you apologize to the democratic senators that you were mocking? >> the agency should not have engaged in that process. >> you agree, i guess -- let me go to the privacy booth. today marks one month since gao announced that the epa violated the anti-deficiency act by
hiding a $43,000 expenditure on a privacy booth. the law requires agencies to immediately report to the president and congress on how the violation happened and what you plan to do to fix it. we have no report in hand. when do you plan to comply with the law by properly reporting this violation, including what epa plans to do to make sure it doesn't happen again and to your boss, the president, and the congress? >> as i mentioned to the chairman in the comments i provided, one of the things i've learned with respect to this particular process is that there were not proper controls in place. when i say proper controls, there was no legal review that took place contemporaneous to approving the contract on whether notification should occur to congress or whether it fell within the $5,000 threshold. that was -- that was not -- >> you're required now to report it. you were required then. we do not have that report -- >> that's not my understanding -- >> as far as i know, the
president doesn't have the report. are you going to report to us? >> it's my understanding that congress has been, in fact, informed about the $43,000 expenditures. >> no, you have not issued the report that is required and tell us how you're going to fix this. >> there's an ongoing investigation -- >> to do that -- >> there's an ongoing investigation -- >> will you commit to do that? >> to do what, ranking member udall? >> submit the report you were required to submit by law. >> yes, once the information is collected, we will provide that report. it's my understanding we had advised congress about the $43,000 expenditure. and if there's additional information that's needed, we will collect the information and get it to congress. >> there is additional information needed because the gao found you violated the law and -- they found you violated the law, you are required to make a report to the president and to the congress. you have not done so. all additional expenditures are also required to be reported.
ya and we haven't had a report on that either. let me ask about president behavior with sirens around town. you know, we've heard of your protective detail. eric weiss told "the new york times" that when traveling you wanted to use lights and sirens which are supposed to be reserved for emergencies because you often ran late, and he said that two weeks after he protested and tried to stop the practice, he was removed from his position. let's get the record straight. did your security detail use sirens while you were in the car for nonemergencies, yes or no? >> let's do this -- >> yes or no? >> there are policies in place that governs the use of lights. those policies were followed to the best of my knowledge by each of the agents that serve me. >> okay. here we go.
there have been reports that you encouraged the use of lietghts d sirens in your motorcade even though there wasn't an emergency, is that true? >> i can't recall that happening. the policies -- >> there -- >> there are policies that the agencies follow. to my knowledge, they followed it in all instances. >> and you personally requested that the sirens and the flashing lights occur, is that right? >> i think i indicated that the agency has followed policies to the best of my knowledge. >> you personally requested that on a number of trips. >> no, i don't recall that. i? >> yeah. i'm going to submit for the record, madam chair, an e-mail that was released this morning by your pasquale, perrotta, sent an e-mail and said, by the way, administrator pruitt encourages the use. i'd like to submit that for the
record. >> that will be included as part of the record. >> thank you. >> to senator hyde-smith. >> chairwoman, thank you for convening this important hearing to review the environmental protection agency's fiscal year 2019 budget request. i'm honored to have the opportunity serve on the interior appropriations subcommittee and look forward to working with you, ranking member udall, and distinguished machines of the subcommittee on -- distinguished members of the subcommittee on crafting legislation that provides adequate resources to the many important agencies and programs under the subcommittee's jurisdiction. administrator pruitt, thank you for appearing before the subcommittee today and all your very good leadership as head of the epa. you have taken a common sense approach to the environmental regulatory process. for that, i am truly grateful and have been most impressed. i do have a couple of questions.
over the past year, the epa has taken important steps to expedite the cleanup of mississippi phosphatepascagoula. i appreciate you making this a priority and commend you for your commitment to ensuring the superfund program is managed very efficient ly and very effectively. this effort will not only benefit the city of pascagoula and citizens of the coast, but it products some of the most important nurseries for aquatic species that our communities rely on. the action memorandum that you signed last month calls for $71.6 million in cleanup to take place from 2018 through 2020, plus $36 million for ongoing wastewater treatment for an ongoing three-year period. mississippi constituents are very encouraged by the epa's plan for action. will you please elaborate or share your thoughts on the
positive acts for the superfund effort you will have on the mississippi gulf coast, citizens, and ecosystem should the cleanup go as planned? >> senator, thank you for your comments in and the question. the mayor was in town at the time we did that. as you indicated, we added the cite to the list in january of '18. i think the superfund impact, the approach we go taking to making sure we prioritize action and get results sometimes from an early remediation perspective is making a substantial difference. i think this site is an example of that. it's exemplary, i think, of how we should be partnering with those at the local level. what we've -- what we have endeavored to to do is work -- to do is work with mayors of the localities along with governors and make sure our program both in washington but also in the region are trying to find answers with those partners. i think, again, this is demonstrative of that. >> does epa's budget request for
fiscal 2019 include adequate resources for epa to carry out the action memorandum? >> i think the omnibus that was adopted, increase superfund allocation which is helpful, as you know, there are a series of orphan sites that make up our superfund portfolio, sites meaning there is no responsible priority. they are the minority, but they are expensive. we have to use resources obviously of the agency to achieve that. i think a continued emphasis on funding and the budget with respect to superfund very, very important to address those orphan sites. the other aspect, is to give accountability to the responsible parties. to make sure the companies that have polluted the sites are held accountable and that they pay for remediation in a timely fashion. i think both are important, funding from a federal level, but the accountability through the enforcement process. >> thank you. also, the previous
administrations have made the process of pesticide registrations less predictable, and the sound science that has supported a risk-based approach to regulating pesticides has given way to politics and emotions. as a former commissioner of agriculture for our state, this is very important to us that farmers in mississippi and throughout the southeast rely heavily on pesticide products to protect the investment they make every year to provide food and fiber to the world. i would like to personally thank you, mr. administrator, for visiting mississippi and several small farms last year in the fall. i further commend your leadership at epa in vetting the gyp tent for the -- resetting the intent for the insecond side, fungicide, and rodentcide risk-based approach and re-establishing a regulatory process for the regulation of critical products to farmers, ranchers, and everyone else.
you brought true common sense policy to the agency, and i look forward to working more with you in the future as we're enjoying this leadership. i was interested to see your announcement this week establishing the new office of continuous improvement at epa. will this new agency-wide effort to improve the time it takes epa to complete core functions benefit pesticide registration and the overall regulation of important agricultural products? >> yes. that's actually the focus, senator, of the office of continuous improvement. there are many statutory deadlines that congress imposes upon the agency. whether an axe review process or 15-year psych ocycle on pestici. routinely, those statutory time periods are not complied with. we didn't keep track of it before. that's permitting, as i indicated, the time between the violation and enforcement, actually fixing the violation. this issue of statutory deadlines, those are not tracked, nor was there accountability in those areas. the office of continuous
improvement is set up to address each of those and to establish metrics and objectives. we spent time last year, the third and fourth quarter, talking to our program offices and having them identify the object they want to achieve in the next three to five-year period and setting goals in place and tracking those on daily basis. i'm encouraged by the process. and hopeful that it will yield results as we go forward. >> what are other key areas under epa's administration that this office will streamline and improve the regulatory process? >> i mentioned permitting. we didn't even track the approval or denying of permits before we arrived. we measured that data together last year. i know this will not be terribly surprising to members of the committee, but it takes a while to get to the permitting process. we're setting goals and objectives to finish that within
a certain time period. by the end of 2018 we will have processes in place to ensure decisions are made within six months on the permits that we review. >> very refreshing, thank you very much. >> thank you, senator. senator tester? >> thank you. thank you for being here, administrator pruitt. i want to talk about a few parochial issues for me. last year you committed to working with superfund communities in montana to increase transparency and solicit additional public input. i applaud that. i am glad to hear that epa and bp arco are moving forward with the framework agreement to cleaning up butte and can might have -- can move forward soon on anaconda. do the court-order sealing consent decrees, the people in the communities don't know the broad strokes of what the oi too the transparency hasn't happened. and the public input hasn't happened. are you willing to ask the court
permission for an overview of the proposed cleanup actions with the public? >> absolutely. >> when? >> senator, if i might, with respect to butte particularly, i think with the january action this year, as you know, there's delisting occurring. we're making progress, and i'm encouraged where we are. >> one of the key things is that the butte community and the anaconda community to an extent have not had input on this. the stuff's been done, sealed up, secret, non-transparent at all. you will ask the court for permission to open that up and share it with the public. >> justice would have to do that. we would have to work through justice to achieve that. we will make that request. let me say this, as well -- we've had people on the ground, as you know, in butte and places soliciting and trying to get comment. >> yeah. i got it. you understand this has been going on for a long, long time in butte. in the community.
i think you agree by your statements last year, i want to make sure we follow up and do that, the community needs to have input. so they need to know what's going on. they can't -- they can give input, but you know what i mean, you got to know what's going on with the decrees in order to be able to give adequate input on how to move forward. that's all i'm asking. >> absolutely. it's been pint of emphasis -- a point of emphasis in the areas. the community involvement -- >> with that goes the opportunity to potentially listen to that input and change those decrees to meet the needs of the community. >> as we negotiate the enforcement, yes. >> okay. the oig -- thank you for that. the oig report on superfund staffing issues cited a lack of remedial investigations on the west side soil operative unit in broo butte is an example of how this can be delayed for decades. we don't know if people with water are at risk. we think there's arsenic, cadmium, copper, lead, zinc, all
the impacts of that. this is a human health and safety issue that's been a situation for decades in butte. a site that the epa has recently flagged for immediate intense action, your agency. yet, there's still only one employee on the ground there on site. i understand in between him and your regional director they're working to engage people on the ground to get the ball rolling but haven't given them any additional resources or staff to get that ball rolling. how are the sites going to get cleaned up? even high-priority sites like butte that have real threat to human health and water if they can't get the resources they need for basic risk assessment? >> we have sent individuals from headquarters here and the region to engage with dooubutte. and i responded a minute ago. the funding from congress with respect to superfund is important. it's something we want to
encourage increasing. i'm thankful that in the omnibus that was increased. >> yes. >> those moneys largely go toward the orphan sites that don't have a responsible party. the personnel side of things we will work to address these high-priority areas. i think what you're referencing is the administrator's list that put butte on. >> yes. >> and so it is absolutely a point of emphasis as far as engagement and getting people on site to help. >> i got that, administrator pruitt. but it takes more than just putting them on the list. >> i understand. >> they've got to have the manpower and resources or it doesn't happen. they get on a list, and that's as far as it goes. i'm asking you to make sure they do have the resources and the manpower because it's not going away unless we deal with it. >> i agree. >> okay. let me ask you this -- i don't think butte is singular in the
sites -- >> 1,340-plus. >> we'll take your numbers. that have been -- yet the oig says that the offices are understaffed, and yet we get the proposal that the superfund budget is being cut. did i read that wrong in the budget? >> the proposed budget actually proposed the cut, yes. >> i mean, we had the conversation about evaluation. we had the -- >> sometimes i'm not as persuasive as i want to be with omb. >> okay. i pick up what you're laying down. okay. thank you. the community of libya struggled with asbestos, highest rate of asbestos-related diseases -- >> it is important, senator, with respect to these levels of funding for things like superfund. leadership in this program is important. >> yep. >> funding is equally important. and focusing on getting results. what's happened for a number of
years, the reason we have a butte situation is a lack of awareness and ability to achieve outcome. we are committed to making sure that's happening. >> there are plenty of things in this epa under your administration that i could be critical of, trust me. you have made a commitment to clean up superfund sites. we happen to have three in the state of montana. i want to make sure we get on the same page and work together to clean those superfund sites up. i agree with you on that. i think it's really important. talk is cheap, and people and resources are important. these things don't go away unless we spent what we need, whether in manpower or dollars to get it cleaned up. you thank you for that -- >> action and results matter. >> you better believe it. thank you. i will put the asbestos question for the record because i'm out of time. >> thank you. senator caputo? >> thanks for being here today. i want to set the scene. you and i have talked about what
happened to the state of west virginia over the last eight years and appalachia as a general region. now our unemployment rate is lower. our gdp growth is some of the fastest in the country. i think a lot of that is increased productivity. and we have a lot more work to do. i think some of the good work that you are doing to take the regulatory boot off of american workers is certainly appreciated where live. i want to ask about the clean power plan. that regulation i think had the potential of downside risk for the state of west virginia. but host a public meeting in our state over a two-day period. i appreciate that. the first time the epa's held an open meeting in our state for a very long time. i'd like to know given what i've described as west virginia's present economic situation, you know, recovering, what -- can you provide us with an update on your plans to replace the clean
power plan and how you intend to incorporate that public input that you've received from different stakeholders? >> senator, we'll approach the public input much like we did with respect to the discussion around the clean power plan. it's important to hear from stakeholders. we're not only in west virginia. we were in other places across the country. wyoming, as i recall, california, as well. that process will continue. we have an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking in the marketplace, soliciting comment and input on the potential replacement to the clean power plan. we have a two-step process. one is the repeal of the clean power plan as a proposal. then also consideration of what replacements would occur. that would be a rulemaking process. will be a collaborative process, a stakeholder process. we'll hear from folks across the country on that issue. >> do you have any idea what the timing might be? >> we anticipate that in 2018,
all that occurring in 2018. i think it's important, it's -- with respect to the clean power plan specifically, with the u.s. supreme court stay against the clean power plant, it obviously never went into existence. >> right. >> and largely the reason is because the agency tried at least twice to regulate these ghe under the section 111 clean air act. it's questionable what authority exists which is why we're soliciting the marketplace on the extent of our authority. >> thank you for that. as you know, two communities in west virginia, parkersburg and martinsburg, have been particularly impacted by the releases of fornated compounds into the environment -- fornated compounds into the experiment. there have been reports that the release of an hha study into the risks associated and safe maximum exposure limits of these chemicals has been delayed by stakeholder agencies over staff concerns that findings may pose a public relations challenge or demonstrate that in some cases the federal government has an obligation to assist with
remediation. we have a real vested interest in this. i want to give you -- i want to hear your view on this. this is something that for those of us who are directly impacted, we've already had a drinking water incident in my hometown that was very devastating several years ago with a chemical release. could you talk about this? >> yes, i think, ranking member udall, this may have been something you make reference to, as well. i want to make a reference to this. we had a stakeholder meeting, a summit that's occurring next week, with over 200 participant, state, federal, interagency, with addressing pfo pphos, and ge no, sig g gen-x. we haven't taken action with the acceptance that would require
cleanup by responsible parties. so that's something that i am considering, we'll discuss at the summit next week with the stakeholders. we need to take more concrete action with respect to pfo and pphos. we'll have toxicity standards established this summer with respect to gen-x. pfo and pphos have not been in place. we need to establish with the mcl, have exceptions to 107 and doing more than simply having a health advisory in respect. >> that is good news. i'm glad that's ongoing. oi obviously that's ongoing before the press reports about the hhs report. what is your response to the question on this report? will it be published? will we see it before your stakeholder meeting next week? >> again, hhs is a participant in that summit next week.
and i was not aware that there have been some holding back of the report. i think it's important to have information in the marketplace -- >> absolutely. >> with this. what's most important to me is not just studies. as you know, i think the healthy advisory is 70 parts per trillion, a very strong standard. we need to make sure that if there's an mcl, maximum contaminant limit, or 107 approach that it's based on a record. that's what we would proceed with post the summit next week. as far as information, we need more information, notless. we need to take -- not less. we need to take concrete action to address these things. >> i think you're in a position with your strong statement today to encourage this information to come forward, to see and look at it in the larger context of your meeting for next week, and i appreciate the fact that are you trying to reach the scientific limit that would impact any health impacts in our areas
regardless of who has to remediate and what the remediation costs will be. >> this issue's a little bit like -- different, but from the superfund discussion we had with senator tester. there's been discussion about pfo and pfos for a number of years, but not much action. there needs to be concrete action taken by the respective agencies to address it. i think the two most important that we need to evaluate is the setting of an mcl and 107 listing under circla to focus on remediation. >> thank you. >> thank you, senator. senator van holland? >> thank you, madam chairwoman. welcome, mr. administrator. >> thank you, senator. >> you're right. in your testimony you indicated that there were policy positions that you've take than have stirred lots of controversy. i believe that a lot of the positions you've taken are contrary to the mission and mandate of epa to protect the public health and protect our environment. look at your budget proposes massive cuts to the chesapeake
bay program from $73 a million, a bipartisan commitment, to .1 of that budget. there's no way that we can meet the health and environmental protection needs of the bay with that kind of budget. this morning, i don't want to focus on those issues because there are sort of a higher duty in a sense, regardless of our positions on issues, we have a duty to uphold the public trust and protect the taxpayer dollars, you agree with that, don't you? >> i do. >> the reality is there are strong policy differences with lots of agency heads. i disagree with the positions taken by now-secretary pompeo when he was director of intelligence. you were the only agency head to my knowledge to have anything close to whether it's 11 ongoing investigations or 16 investigations at the federal level. when you responded to senator murkowski's question about giving you the opportunity to respond and started by saying,
well, you're taking on a lot of tough issues, and the allegations of violations of public trust are really primarily response that, i don't think you're taking this issue of public trust seriously. here's my question -- with about 11 or 16 pending investigations, whatever it is, there have been reports that you intend to establish a legal defense fund. is that true? >> i understand that's being set up, yes. >> okay. you're the process of setting that up? >> it's -- it's been set up. >> i want to make sure -- however that works, you're not subject to more allegations or complaints that you're violating the public trust. >> if i might there, we've actually worked with gao, my attorney here has done this for a number of years, worked with gao. >> okay. >> to make sure that it's done properly. >> just a couple questions on the -- the commitments you can make today. will all donations to that
defense fund be public? >> they will be published, yes, subject to disclosures, yes. >> will you commit today to not accept any donations from lobbyists or corporations that have beings before the epa? >> absolutely. yeah. >> okay. will you agree not to accept anonymous donations? >> let me clarify something -- i don't accept donations. i don't -- >> let me ask you this, okay -- >> that's done by attorneys and others. >> let me ask you this -- will you print on the, you know, structure of your legal defense fund, the rules, will you make it clear that you will not accept anonymous donations? the office of legal counsel at the white house, as you know, recommends strongly against any of these legal defense funds having anonymous donations. i'm asking as part of the rules of your legal defense funds you will say that you're not going to accept anonymous donations? >> whatever the discussions with gao, white house counsel's office yields in that regard, we will --
>> will you accept the recommendation of the white house office of legal counsel with respect to the trust fund? >> they already are. >> okay. then you won't be accepting anonymous donations, or the rules won't allow that. what's also troubled me, mr. administrator, is this sort of pattern of information that comes to light about violations of the public trust or misuse of taxpayer dollars. then your finger pointing at others in the agency, it was really their fault. mr. udall asked you about a tweet, the tweet was you. somebody else did it. i understand that. but here's a headline about the large salary increases you gave to some of your top people, headline government executive pruitt and chief of staff personally approved payraises of up to 72% for top aides, i. gg. fines. goes on to deny today, and later
in congress you had to acknowledge that you signed off on that. my question relates to something that just came up in response to a letter to senators carper and whitehouse with respect to the security detail. it's been your position that you were essentially accepting the security that was recommended to you by the folks who were responsible for security, right? that's the position you've taken. >> those decisions are made by law enforcement officials at the agency. >> okay. have you seen the response from the i.g.'s office? a -- >> i, in fact, have it before me. >> okay. what it says is that, in fact, you made the request for 24/7 protection on the day you were confirmed as administrator. is that true? >> page 5 of the report, senator, it says the decision to provide 24/7 was made by the office of criminal enforcement osf at the agency. >> i'm reading in response to
question number five. it says, this is the response from the i.g. at the epa. >> i'm reading from the same line -- >> the epa office of criminal enforcement, forensics, and training has informed the oig that epa's protective service detail began providing 24/7 coverage of the administrator the first day he arrived at the epa. the decision was made by the office of criminal enforcement, forensics, and training after being informed that mr. pruitt recommended 24/7 protection once he was confirmed back in february. is that true? did you request it once -- right when -- >> i was aware of communications taking place. that was before confirmation. and the decision to provide 24/7 security was made, as indicated by this report, by law enforcement career officials at the agency. >> yeah. mr. pruitt, the plain language of the letter, i read it, is that you requested it. and there have been lots of
rankings as the chairman and ranking know in the house and senate where you point to an august, 2017, report, document, by the inspector general which they've made clear was not a threat assessment but that it was a report. you've been pointing to that as justification for this -- >> that's not the case -- >> this increased 24/7 security. >> that's not the case -- >> it turns out you requested the first day, in february -- >> you're mixing issues here. >> okay. >> the inspector general investigates threats. the protective service detail provides the threat assessment. and so that's the distinction. the protective service detail at the agency made the decision about the 24/7 coverage. the inspector general report you're talking about in august is simply a compilation of threats that existed at the time where they're investigating the threats at that moment. >> i'm not confused at all. the argument you made over time is that you have faced all these additional threats when, in fact it turns out at least according to this i.g. report that you
made the request for 24/7 security the first day that you were in office. is that true or not true? >> i read -- >> senator, your time has expired, well over. we will have an opportunity in the second round. thank you. senator danes? >> mr. pruitt perks the epa budget request reflects your kbli commitment to refocusing epa on its core mission to protect human health and to protect the environment. montana is home to the most expansive superfund sites in the country m country. i think it was shared earlier in the hearing that montana has three superfund sites on the national list. we actually have 17 superfund sites on the national priority list. i want to thank you for the work that your epa has done to make real progress on montana's sites. it's been a long time coming. i'm grateful for your heeding my
calls to do so. one of our first meetings we had, you talked about refocusing the epa and starting to get on a results focus instead of activity focus. i thank you for that. i tell you, we've still got a lot of work to do. want to talk about anaconda for a moment, near butte. people hear a lot about butte and the superfund site. i want to talk about anaconda. it's been requested that a health study be conducted to evaluate the lasting impacts of the former smelter now-turned-superfund site. i understand the first steps are underway. my question is, are you working with the agency for toxic substances and disease registry to seek appropriate public comment of the health study? >> yes, in fact, we're working not only with atsdr but the
state of montana in that regard. i think there's been one community listening session, and there are others that are going to occur. this is important for the partnership. i mentioned earlier, senator caputo, i believe, that the local input, state and federal input should be cohesive in trying to determine the best path forward in superfund sites. i think this is demonstrative of that. >> the communities want to be heard, and i've also heard good feedback. had folks on the ground, they're listening to what the community has to say. the followup question, when will the results of that health assessment be made public? >> the listening session here, i show, occurred may 10th. it's scheduled to be completed in march of 2019. >> okay. thank you. i think it's important that we have a commitment to that date. wroo wh what about the local anaconda
schools? i know the school district and county have requested soil and dust sampling. could you provide an update on the epa's efforts to meet those demands? >> yeah. arco is actually conducting ongoing sampling now through the spring with respect to those school sites and i think the results we made available at the end of the school year. >> okay. >> as that sampling has occurred. any additional cleanups will be conducted over the summer to address post the kids leaving school. >> so i appreciate your commitments and the diligence regarding the anaconda site, it's been a long time coming, it's crucial that we put the health of montanans first in undertaking the site cleanup and this is very important, we do this with the utmost transparency and thank you for that. i want to shift gears now and talk about butte. as you know, arco, epa and the state and local leadership in
butte reached a conceptual agreement on a consent decree to address cleanup at the silver bow butte area super fund site. this was an important first step toward a long-term remedy. what the residents of butte want to know is exactly what is in that agreement and so do i for that matter. i know that you committed earlier in this hearing that you would work to lift that court gag order that is currently keeping the agreement in the dark and i want to thank you for that commitment. but once the gag order is lifted, can i get your assurance that your team will get to butte quickly to take community input on the details of that agreement? >> yes, and, in fact, we've had many members of our team head to butte and in addition with the regional representation as well. i think -- i can't emphasize
enough the importance of community stakeholders having a voice in the process. we have sites all over the country where that process has been revived and i think there's much optimism with respect to stakeholders having more say at the local level so that's something we're definitely committed to and we make sure happens in butte. >> i'm encouraged by the responses, i'm encouraged by the commitments. having montana input and local input on the super fund cleanup process is absolutely essential. i want to also provide just some feedback from the troops on the ground, montanans regarding your region 8 administrator doug benivento. he has had a very proactive approach to carrying out the mission of the epa, he's building relationships with local leaders and he is working to address the community concerns. there is still a lot of anxiety and concern, there is still a long path in front of us that we've got at that walk, but he has been a pleasure to work
with, i look forward to continue doing so with him and with you and i want to ask you keep your eyes on butte and anaconda as well as our other super fund sites on the national priority list as we make additional headway in bringing these montana super fund sites back to clean productive reuse. >> doug is doing a great job. i appreciate those comments. he is working diligently to bring these stakeholders together and we are seeing results not only in montana but across the region as a whole. we will definitely keep our eye on the ball. >> thank you. >> thank you, senator. we will now begin a second round here. as the senators -- both senators from montana have asked you to keep an eye on butte and anaconda i'm going to ask you to keep an air on fair banks. we have had an opportunity to speak to the challenges that the fair banks north star borough has with regard to meeting epa air quality requirements. i have worked hard to ensure that the borough was eligible to
apply for a grant under the targeted a air shed grant program, was very pleased that we were able to deliver good news with your help to that community for additional resources to help them take actions like wood stove changeout that can have an impact, a positive impact on the air quality. as you are likely aware epa has reclassified fair banks as a series nonattainment air for the fine particulate air pollution and it requires the state to formulate a plan of attainment no later than december 31 and we've had an opportunity to speak about this issue and the very specific challenges that fair banks has at this point access to alternative energy sources are limited. they don't have natural gas that comes into the community yet, we've been working for years talking about various proposals,
everything from trucking to the hopes that we will see the ability to have gas piped, but our reality is that we are very, very limited with the options. and the complex situation was made more complicated because of fair banks geography sitting in a valley, the low temperatures in the winter and i need -- i need to hear from you again the commitment that you will provide me as well as your team to really work with the communities, work with the borough to address the challenges that they face. some of them are immovable, you can't change the geography, but we have got to find a way that the residents are able to have
cleaner air but also not the breathing down their neck of a timeline that perhaps might not be attainable. so your comments. >> yes, the designation that you referred to, chairman, actually provided additional time and that was important and we have been working diligently internal to the air office at the epa to address these matters. i think at some point it may simply require rulemaking to address the standards that have been set previously and i've actually been engaged in conversations with bill warim and others in the office about steps and alternatives there, but ultimately we want certainty and clarity and we want to make sure that the standards that have been set are fair and that they actually achieve what they're supposed to achieve but also take into consideration the exceptional circumstances that's represented by fair banks. >> i appreciate that recognition that we have to do -- we have to do more that provides for that level of certainty. as you know, we were able to
include additional funding in the 18 omnibus for the targeted air shed grant program. i would imagine that fairbanks would apply again and hopefully they would be considered favorably given the situation there, but i appreciate kind of the multi-pronged approach that you are taking to a very, very serious challenge in this region. >> and i think the air shed grants, the targeted grants i think were $4 million or so. >> yes, $4 million to fairbanks. >> both in '17 and i think recently in '18. >> which helps that community a great deal. let me again speak to a more parochial issue as it relates to us up north and this is the diesel generators in our remote villages. in the omnibus bill that we just passed we included language there that requires epa to reexamine this regulation related to diesel generators that are used to generate power
in our rural alaskan communities. so many of our communities unfortunately are still diesel powered. we don't -- they don't have access to any kind of a grid. under this regulation the generators that are purchased after model year 2014 have to have a diesel particulate filter if they are going to use it as the primary power generator and the problem is that these filters have an extraordinarily high failure rate and even simple upgrades can be difficult. that's compounded then with the fact that these upgrades can only be done by specific technicians, these technicians don't exist in these villages and so it just -- it continues to compound and complicate an issue. i know that we've just put this directive in place just about a month ago so i don't expect it
to be complete at this stage, but i do hope that you can provide me with a status on the review and, again, your commitment to helping us find a workable solution for these remote alaska micro grids in a timely matter. i just received a communication from tananau chiefs conference which is the tribal organization leadership in the region and they specific to this point outlining their very immediate concerns and asking for that level of help. >> well, there is a categorical as you indicated prohibition against any moneys being used to address or enforce the existing standards. so, i mean, what we are committed to is working with the coalition locally to try to find answers and to make sure that we comply with the language from the omnibus bill. >> thank you. let me turn to senator udall. >> thank you, madam chair.
mr. administrator, senator van hollen asked the question and he didn't get a yes or no answer and that's all i'm asking for here. did you personally on your first day ask for 24/7 protection for yourself? >> personally on the first day the 24/7 had been determined by the criminal enforcement office to provide. i did not -- >> you did not -- >> i didn't direct that on the first day. >> so your answer is no. >> my answer is i did not direct that on the first day. >> okay. well, all the documents dispute that. >> that -- senator, if i may -- >> no. no. it's just the documents dispute that here. and the -- this is a statement not a question, but my understanding from the reporting on this is that you have never had a security assessment to determine whether 24/7 was required and that's been reported yesterday in the "washington post."
now, when we sat in this room together in june of last year i asked you to confirm that you would respond to all questions, including written creorrespondes from majority and minority leaders of this subcommittee as quickly as possible and your answer was, yes, without question. does that commitment still stand? >> yes. >> now, why, then, have you still not answered my april 4th letter and my may 9th follow-up letter requesting information related to your condo rental here in d.c.? >> i will check. >> will you respond to my two letters? >> senator, i really want to read specifically from the section that you made reference to a minute ago because it's important that there's clarity around this issue on 24/7. the oig in the letter -- >> we have all the documents. >> i understand, but it's important. it's important that i -- >> we have all the documents. >> the office of criminal enforcement, again, providing
24/7 coverage and the decision was made by the office of criminal enforcement. that was done prior to -- >> i understand that. i understand. we have limited time. we will put all the documents in the record and you can make your arguments. >> we will include the documents that you are seeking to read. >> senator van hollen has all the documents, with he will put them all into the record. i have several of them right here. we thank you, madam chair, for that. on this condo, i want to ask you are you going to respond to my letters? do you see a conflict of interest in accepting a pretty good housing deal from a lobbyist couple that has business before the epa? >> senator, the ethics officials at the agency actually have performed two reviews saying that the lease terms are consistent with comparable rates in the marketplace. >> that was all done after the fact. >> it was. but steve hart is someone that was not registered as a lobbyist
in 2017, he is a long time associate and friend. >> okay. well, let's just stop there. is steve hart was not registered as a lobbyist. here is his firm. here is his firm, e-mail answer to questions, williams and jansen told the hill in his e-mail, quote, an independent review of the firm's lobbying activity in advance of the quarterly filing deadline concluded that mr. hart had lobbying contact with the environmental protection agency in the first quarter of 2018, period, end quote. >> and the period in question -- >> do you think -- do you think that's acceptable to have this individual, mr. hart, who is a lobbyist and then you rent a room from him at a pretty good deal, yes or no? >> the filing that you are referring to was for the first quarter of 2018 and it was for the firm and mr. hart was not listed on that disclosure. >> well, mr. hart was a lobbyist and you rented a room from him
and you had issues pending before your agency at the time that hart's firm were working on, which is to me -- that is the exact swamp that president trump was trying to get rid of and all of these questions i've been asking about is this swampy behavior that's going on here. i mean, consistently over and over and over again, whether it's sirens, whether it's, you know, perks for you and your friends, for your staff. let me move here to your -- it's been reported that a member of your staff, one who got a 33% raise to over $114,000 earlier this year house hunted for you during work hours. this would be a violation of federal rules as well as a misuse of taxpayer dollars. did your staff contact realtors and arrange tours for you during working hours, yes or no? >> it's my understanding that all activity there was on
personal time. >> yes or no, sir? >> as i indicated, it's my understanding that all activity there was on personal time. the individual was a long time friend of my wife and to myself and to link in i type of review on a pay increase is not substantiated. it's not related at all. >> let me -- you know, you are an attorney general, were an attorney general, a law enforcement official. cfr regulations prohibit directing a subordinate to do personal work for you and if they volunteer that is a gift, services must be paid for at fair market value. so it doesn't cut it that they are a friend or that kind of thing. did you pay them at the time for doing that work? >> all activity that i'm aware of that was engaged in by the individual you are speaking about occurred on personal time. >> and did you pay them for it? >> no, i did not. >> then that's a gift. that's in violation of federal law. now, mr. pruitt, regarding samantha drayvus your former
director of office of policy the inspector general is investigating if ms. drayvus came to the office most if not all of the months november, december, january. until she resigned last month she was the director of your office of policy, your top policy adviser, was she not. >> yes, she was the head of the policy at the epa. >> we up here we try to make sure these people come to work. were you making -- >> we do as well. >> -- sure that she came to work for three months. >> i interacted with her multiple times through that process. >> those three months, november, december and january. >> the schedule shows that she was attending meetings not just with me but others in the agency. >> and she was -- she worked the whole time, that's your testimony? >> no, that's not what i said, senator. >> well -- >> i said i interacted with her during that time frame and she was providing other services during that time frame as well. >> during the months of november, december and january was she working for you? >> she was employed at the agency and there is a review of that process ongoing and the
record will bear that out. >> thank you, madam chair. my time is up. >> senator van hollen. >> i just want to follow up on a few things. mr. administrator, one is -- and we will put the documents in the record, but it's very clear what they say here. it says that the office of criminal enforcement forensics and training -- let me back up. the decision, decision to provide 24/7 was made by the office of criminal enforcement, forensics and training after being informed that mr. pruitt requested 24/7 protection. so i know you keep trying to say this says that it was their idea. this says they made that decision after you requested it. >> i can only say, senator, i did not decide, direct that decision to be made. that was made by the office of criminal enforcement. i was aware of the process taking place prior to my arrival. you remember my confirmation process, senator, it was fairly competitive and intense and
there was ongoing process -- >> i'm just reading. we are all trying to figure out what the facts are here. i'm simply reading -- >> and i am as well. >> -- from the ig report and the ig report says their decision was made after you requested 24/7 protection. not that it was made because they conclude that had there was a need for 24/7. >> the inspector general in my view was simply trying to clarify that they don't engage in assessments. that's the protective service detail that does that. the document that was referred to earlier, i think ranking menu doll mentioned of, of august, that's simply a snapshot in time of the types of threats that were being investigated by the agency. the death threats and the rest. it was not an assessment, no one ever said it was an assessment. >> mr. administrator, i'm not at all confused between the fact that the ig's office is to document things that have happened. it's not their job obviously to prevent -- to present the threat assessment and recommend what
security. what the ig is saying is that when they asked the folks who were responsible for providing security, which is the office of criminal enforcement, forensics and training, that that office told them that they provided you 24/7 protection after you requested it, not because they did some assessment that justified the need for 24/7. so we will put this document in the record, we can all talk about it. i want to ask you about allegations -- >> but they are the individuals that made the decision according to the same document you are referring to. >> they made the decision -- look, if a new administrator comes in and says, hey, i want 24/7 protection and they provide it, you're right, they decide -- >> that's been my experience historically. >> that's what this says, the chronology here is that they made that decision after your request for it and this is an ig report. i mean, i assume that they take this job seriously. let me ask you about statements
made by somebody who used to work for you, one of your deputy chiefs of staff, mr. shimalinski. is that how you pronounce his name? >> sounds right. >> okay. are you aware of the allegations that he has made, he says he was fired by you because he brought to your attention some of these issues regarding misspending and violations of the public trust. in fact, in an interview with some of the members of the environment of public works committee he said, and i'm quoting from their record, quote, every time you tried to find out about something you got into trouble, unquote. and they go on to detail lots of statements that he made, your former deputy chief of staff, about your conduct and decisions. these are documented in a letter of april 12th, 2018 from senator
carper, whitehouse and elijah cummings. are you familiar with the letter? >> i'm familiar with the letter, not all of its contents. >> have you had a chance to review it? >> it's been some time. >> so my question is the suggestions have been made through your testimony that people who have policy differences with you would be somehow motivated to make more out of these things than is justified. this is coming from somebody who strongly supports the president's agenda, has no differences with you on the policy agenda, he was on the trump campaign, president trump has given him a shout out, he says to this day that he supports the president's agenda and doesn't have an issue with the policy agenda you are pursuing. do you have any reason why he would be making these statements other than if they are truthful? >> well, i had limited interaction with kevin, in fact, most interaction that i had with
him was in the field, he was effectively the head of advance. i can say to you that i'm not aware of any personnel decision being made with respect to the person you are referring to with respect to any policy issues or budget issues or spending issues. i didn't have that kind of interaction with kevin. i don't know to what he's referring to. >> okay. but he's got a lot in here. i really urge the committee to take a look at this. at the end of this letter there was a request for documents. my question is will you provide the documents requested in this april 12th, 20 -- >> i sure that's in process. i'm sure that's in process. >> so that's a yes? >> yes. >> thank you. thank you, madam. >> thank you, senator. let me speak to you about some of the water programs, again, areas that you and i have plenty of agreement on that there is much work that needs to be done when it comes to aging water infrastructure around the
country and then in places like rural alaska, infrastructure for the very first time. in the fy '18 omnibus i included $20 million to help small and disadvantaged communities obtain basic water and sewer infrastructure. this is through the program that was created a couple years ago, the win act, the water infrastructure improvement for the nation act. this is the first time the program has received funding so i'm curious to know how long you anticipate -- what is it going to take for you to get this program up and running? we are looking at it as an opportunity, really an extraordinary opportunity to help facilitate a level of public safety that has been lacking for a long time when you don't have clean drinking water,
when you don't have sewer and wastewater systems and the disease that we deal with, all of the health conditions that we worry about are greater amplified. so can you give me a little sense as to how you anticipate moving forward with this program. >> well, let me say generally that rural communities in addition to heavily dense urban markets with respect to led and drinking water, that's the reason i mentioned that in my opening comments, that we need to be much more intentional about replacing the lead service lines across the country. you have eye lighted something that i think is often missed which is those rural communities have as great a challenge and sometimes not the resources, you know, bonding capacity or otherwise to address it. so one of the things we are actually looking at is using a regionalization approach that will allow regional water systems to kind of band together to submit applications under
wifia to achieve access to funds, to help them in improving their systems. so we are looking at a regionalization approach there. the $30 million that you referred to we are earnestly setting up the process to implement that. there was money put in the budget as you know for schools, around i think it's $20 million if i'm not mistaken with respect to assessment there for schools and lead. it's very important as part of this overall strategy that we implement that along with the wifia approach i made reference to earlier. >> let me ask you about wifia. now that that is fully staffed and loans are being issued, should we expect the -- kind of the rollout of these loans to happen relatively quickly? we nearly doubled the size of the wifia program as i understand it. i don't know whether that means that we need to look to additional staffing for that.
what's your assessment on the capabilities of the wifia program. >> some of it is awareness, chairman murkowski in the sense that a lot of communities across the country aren't aware of the community. so i think there is an effort that we should engage in, in fact, are engaging in to work with governors and others to raise awareness about the opportunities around wifia. we extended or are in the process of extending the deadline for applications until the end of july, it was the beginning part of july, because we wanted to engage in an aggressive posture on trying to make communities aware of the opportunities. so i think the program is not nascent, it's not a nascent situation, but it's early in its development as you know and i think the agency needs to do more to advance awareness and to solicit the kind of applications that will make a difference. indiana just submitted an application that impacted multiple communities in the state, it was the first of kind and innovative and we're trying
to use that as an example forest rest of the country to see these are the kind of approaches we'd like to see to get more velocity as far as investment in these water structure systems. >> know that that's an area we really look forward to working with you on. some pretty basic, basic issues when you think about clean water and, again, water and annotat n sanitation. small remote incinerators you hear me talk about this one a lot. again, going back to the omnibus we included a position to limit epa's ability to enforce the regulation related to the small remote incinerators. as i've explained this issues to folks that the application in so many parts of alaska you are in very remote areas, almost always inaccessible by road, and you
don't have other options for solid waste disposal for the most part. the option that we have is you helicopter the solid waste out. well, if you are really looking to reduce your levels of emissions, having helicopter flights to move either from your remote mine site or an oil site, oil plat -- not platform, but oil drilling area, you're defeating your purpose here in terms of how you are monitoring your emissions. so we included this language in the omnibus, we recognize that it is not a permanent solution, we've had discussions with you, i've raised it with the assistant administrator wirham. we want to work with epa to find
a solution and both of you have committed to working with us on this, but it's one of those where we keep thinking that we've got a resolve and a year later i'm still in front of the committee and the epa administrator is here, whether it's you or whether it was gina mccarthy, we continue to have these conversations about it but we haven't gotten to that permanent solution. so know that we have got to figure this one out. >> yeah, it's one of those situations that i believe that we need very much pragmatism, practical approaches to fix it and it is a unique situation for the community. we need to recognize that as such and find solutions that address that uniqueness. >> as i say, oftentimes it's not even a community, it's just a very remote operational site. >> right. >> so how we can help facilitate that is something we want to continue to work with you on. senator udall.
>> thank you, madam chair. madam chair, i'd like to put in the lobbying disclosure forms for steven hart relating to the last questions. >> those will be part of the record. >> thank you very much. related to the search for the apartment and housing, mr. administrator -- and this is really a simple yes or no -- will you provide copies of all e-mails and other documents related to your apartment search including any from your staff, miss hupp from her e-mail address? >> yes. >> thank you very much. you've spoken a lot -- >> with the clarification obviously it being epa -- >> are you do that within ten days? >> it would be e-mails from the agency. that's what i trust that you're asking for. >> well, i'm asking for any e-mails that relate to this, but, yeah, e-mails from the agency, that's included.
>> so i just wanted the clarity. in the time frame i understand that there's significant foyas we are fonding to, but we will respond expeditiously. >> you are willing to give us any of her e-mails, is that correct? >> as i indicated from the agency, why he. >> -- yes. >> you've spoken about the rule of law, i know you are familiar with the foya, that law requires full disclosure of information and documents controlled by the u.s. government. did epa impose a political review process before releasing foya requests? >> not to my knowledge, no. >> thank you. >> maybe you can define that. i'm not entirely sure what you mean by political -- what was the term? >> there are only nine exceptions to foya and none are for political purposes. >> i wanted to make sure i understood your question. >> my understanding is that you put in a political review of foya request by your staff at
your level. >> the office of general counsel follow the statute as far as what exemptions are applicable. >> they don't put any political review in it. >> they follow the statute. >> you haven't asked them to put a political review in it in addition to the nine exceptions. >> i'm not entirely sure what i can say more than what i've said about that, senator. >> earlier this month multiple news reports indicated that your press team was shopping negative stories about interior secretary ryan zinke to take attention away from your scandals. i have to imagine it would be embarrassing to president trump to have officials at one federal agency try to publicly smear one of his cabinet secretaries. did this actually happen? is your staff working to undermine other cabinet officials to distract from your own negative media attention? >> absolutely not. in fact, we investigated this
initially, my chief of staff called ryan zinke's chief of staff at the very moment that that came up and it was determined that that was not happening. >> and you will release all e-mails that will -- that relate to that? >> we have investigated that with the gentleman in question and spoken to interior and whatever documents are relevant to that that are suggest to disclosure we will provide. >> multiple reports indicate that the white house believes this happened. did you ask what facts they knew to inform proper management and discipline of your staff? >> i can only say to you, senator, that upon learning of this allegation we talked to the individual in question and he denied that it ever took place and i had my chief of staff call the chief of staff for ryan zinke and make sure if there were any questions they were addressed. so i took immediate actions internally. >> since you disagree with the white house shuz the ig investigate whether epa
employees are wasting their time shopping negative stories about other officials. >> i don't know what else i can offer you other than what i've already said. >> epa has developed a list of 22 super fund sites some of which were talked about today which need immediate and intense action at least one site was proposed for listing as a new super fund site and added to the elite group of sites at the exact same time. this just happened to be a few weeks after hugh hewitt, a conservative commentator who regularly defends your actions asked you to meet with a california law firm who represents a client that wants to see that very site cleaned up faster. yes or no, did you take interest in that particular california site after hugh hewitt brought to to your attention. >> there were discussions around that site well before that meeting took place and actually good things came out of that meeting and the decision. this is -- i think you are referring to the administrator's list with respect to a special
emphasis. i'm not entirely sure why there would be criticism around us taking concerted action to address super fund sites and get accountability, whomever brings that to our attention. >> well, the idea is that there has been scientific analysis and thorough analysis on a list and so then special friends get to get on a list that has been created by the agency. looks a little bit fishy to me. as i understand it your trip to morocco cost taxpayers nearly $100,000, but had little connection to the epa's traditional mission or activities. it is also reported that the trip was largely organized and arranged by richard smolken a comcast lobbyist you have reportedly known for over a decade. almost immediately after the trip mr. smolken became a registered foreign agent on behalf of the moroccan
government with a $40,000 a month contract. individuals familiar with your morocco trip indicated that mr. smolken was, quote, a near constant presence during your trip but mr. smolken has also been involved in other matters with the epa during your tenure, for example, he arranged your meeting with canadian prime minister steven harper, tried to plan two other trips to australia to address a business council for international understanding and dined with you on multiple occasions in 2017. did you discuss official epa matters with mr. smolken during any of your extensive interactions with him? >> i'm so glad you've asked this question about morocco because it's one of those situations that we were on the ground for 36 hours -- >> i'm -- sir, i just asked you a very specific question. >> and i feel like -- chairman, if i could -- >> did you discuss -- did you discuss -- madam chair, he is not answering my questions. >> you need to give him an
opportunity to answer. >> you made a lot of statements, senator, with respect to characterizing the morocco trip and there was a free trade agreement you know they have environmental chapters that are part of those. the free trade agreement was up in february of this year. we had staff preparing that environmental negotiation, that chapter. i met with five or six different individuals while in morocco over a 36-hour period with respect to those issues. we have had staff i learned recently in morocco following up on the environmental negotiations to ensure they remain part of the free trade agreement so to characterize the morocco trip as being anything other than epa miss is simply a mischaracterization. >> okay. now my question: did you discuss official epa matters with mr. smolken during any of your extensive interactions with him? pretty simple. >> the only discussions we have ever had have been as part of meetings in the office or on the trip that you're speaking about.
>> and you talked about the trade agreement. did you work with a telecommunications -- why did you work with a telecommunications lobbyist regarding such a trip as opposed to state department u.s. trade representative or other officials. >> we worked with the u.s. trade representative, in fact, the ambassador for morocco was in my office requesting that we make the trip, senator. so the trip occurred because of the request by the ambassador in addition to the environmental chapter that was being negotiated as part of the free trade agreement and the u.s. trade representative's office was engaged in the process both before, during and after. >> will you commit to providing this committee and others in congress all documents related to your trip, mr. smolken and the free trade agreement with morocco. >> absolutely. >> within ten business days. thank you. absolutely, right? >> the ten days i can't speak to, but we will actually -- absolutely provide the documentation. >> okay.
>> thank you. fish grinding, i ask every year, every year i need to go back into my records and find out how long it has been that we have been working to resolve this issue, encouraging epa to come up with a reasonable policy related to fish grinding for both on shore and offshore seafood processors. on shore processors are allowed to grind and discharge seafood waste under an nbtdds general permit, but even with the best available technology 100% compliance with the permit requirements is not achievable just because of the nature of the waste itself. so we have been working with you on this even though offshore fish grinding remains an issue within the agency there is --
there are no documented water quality issues attributed to any such grinding. again, i've been working on this for a number of years, every time we seem to get close to resolving it seems that there is another road block that presents itself. so do you have any updates for me on how the agency plans to comply with the omnibus language we've included and give me some kind of a time frame for action that we might expect? >> as you know, the existing permit has expired and it's been administratively continued and this is something that, again, practical approaches need to take root. you're dumping fish parts in the middle of the ocean as i understand it and as you put it there was no documented concerns with respect to ecosystems or the rest and there has been some obviously communications by fish
and wildlife that they would be -- they would object to removing the provision from the permit, but nonetheless it's something we need to proceed with and put the proposal in the marketplace so we can get closure on this issue. it's something that as i've talked to my water office i just don't understand the length of time it has taken to address. >> we don't, either. we don't, either. and, again, this is one that this is -- this has not been an issue under your leadership, it has been an issue that we have been dealing with for years now and it does appear that we should be able to find some resolve. so my last -- my last ask, it's not a question, but the bulk of my questions to you here today as they relate to policy issues have been seemingly very parochial, whether it's small remote incinerators to fish
grinding. over the years we have -- we have worked with prior epa administrators in convening a senior team of folks over at epa usually led by the deputy administrator to just work us -- work through these issues. check in regarding the progress that is being made with many of these very specific issues that as you point out there ought to be a common sense process for moving forward. so i think it would be helpful, it helps avert some problems if we are able to address it at the front end before there are enforcement actions that may be looming that cause concern and just get everybody -- get
everybody engaged in lawyering up. so i do think it would be helpful to have a similar meeting. i would appreciate your willingness to convene this type of a meeting later this summer or delegate that so that we can go through these so that i don't have to take my time in niece budget hearings to go down the checklist and say, okay, where are we. i would like to be able to do that with you. >> so your -- senator sullivan and i have actually talked about perhaps a time that we would spend in alaska, maybe during the recess in august. >> right. >> to address some of these matters and would?ity kmity that to you that perhaps that would be a good time to set as a deadline to get some progress made in these areas. >> i look forward to that. thank you. senator udall, i'm concluded with my questions, but you have time for one more round here. >> i just have a couple of more here. administrator pruitt, you mentioned methylene chloride in meeting with the families.
when are we going to see the ban? that's what i want to know. that's what the families want to know. i met with some of the same families. >> as you know, senator, the proposed ban withdrawal was submitted in january of 2017. >> that's right, the last administration said ban. >> that's right. and then there were comments taken and that's been pending at the agency since probably june of this year as far as review of those comments. when i met with those families recently my commitment post was to -- for the proposed rule as it currently stands, as it was submitted in january of '17 to omb to move to finalization of that rule. now, there are some steps that need to be addressed, there is a dod issue with respect to the use of methylene chloride and in contractors of dod's there is clarity that needs to be addressed. as you know the rule simply says that if you distribute methylene chloride for paint stripping that it has to be in a 55-gallon
drum. there are two different sections of the rule, but we have forwarded that to omg for processing and to move toward final with the clarification around the dod issue along with contractors. >> you're pushing for a ban, correct? >> i'm pushing for the rule that was submitted -- i'm pushing for the rule that was submitted in january of 2017. and that's a very -- i mean, senator, i think that this is one of the solvents that made up the list of ten under tosca the priorities that we are reviewing and this is a matter that we need to act on in my view sooner than what we did and i appreciate you and others bringing that to my attention and the meeting that i had with those families helped cement the process that we're taking. >> now, you've mentioned several times in the course of questioning here about this new office called the office of continuing improvement. >> yes, sir. >> the committee was not notified of this new office. can you commit to us again today
that you will heed this committee's direction on all reorganizations, closures and staffing changes? >> yes, but this was not a reorganization. these were employees that were already internal to the administrator's office that was simply providing leadership with respect to this office continuous improvement. it was not a reorganization. >> well, my understanding is that kind of activity is considered creating a in you office is considered a reorganization, so can you commit to us that you will heed this committee's decisions on all reorganizations, staffing changes. >> yes, senator. there has been a lot of discussion with respect to regions across the country about their status and then labs as well. there has been discussions about that. the regional labs the previous administration began a process to eliminate many regional labs across the country. i have reversed that. because there's regional labs
that make a substantial difference to states in the development of state implementation plans for air quality, water quality standards that they are developing. when we talk about reorganization, that is very important and we see to make you a aware of that. we're trying to get accountability in these areas as much as anything. >> shifting very quickly to agriculture worker protection. children and farmworkers continue to be exposed to color peer fos and other dangerous pesticides. do you know how many children under the age of 18 work in agriculture in the u.s.? >> do i know the number? i do not know the number. >> it's estimated about 500,000 children work in agriculture and right now you are rewriting a rule that protects those children from pesticide exposure. time and again we see public health and safety precautions taking a back seat while corporate friends and donors get special attention. do you think it was appropriate to include supportive statements
from dow chemical, the maker of color pure fos in your epa year-end review 2017/2018 document right under the subheading chemicals and pesticides? >> well, senator, i would rather speak to the issue around age and the worker protection standard. i want you to know that we're evaluating that. states have requirements across -- many states, i think it there are 30 plus states that have age requirements. we are contemplating and considering should there be more different reince given to those states if this he set it at 16 and or 18. we're trying to figure out the best way to achieve that to give reliance upon the states and what we have put in place. as far as the dow reference chemical, the public affairs office put that together and why they included that i can inqu e inquire, but -- i can just provide the information to you on why that was included. >> well, the additional point is
how many supportive statements do you have from agriculturel workers or health professionals in the record in that issue. >> any changes we make to the worker protection standard there is a comment period where there will be a variety of comments made to stake holder pro and con in lowering and increasing that. it's the representation issue that we are addressing and it's not -- so there are multiple issues we are speak to go there. >> and you have represented during your testimony today a number of times that you would answer our questions, answer our letters. we hope that you will do that on a timely basis. thank you, madam chair. >> thank you, senator udall. administrator, thank you. you've given a good portion of your day to us this morning. as senator udall has indicated there have been some questions and requests for information that have been directed to you this morning.
we would anticipate that you would be responsive to that. if members have questions for the record, the record will be held open so that they may submit those questions and, again, your prompt response is appreciated and, again, we thank you for being with us today and the level of cooperation that you have committed to. thank you very much and with that the committee stands adjourned.
you for being with us today and our live coverage continues this afternoon when fbi director christopher wray testifies on the bureau's proposed 2019 budget. we will have that senate appropriations subcommittee hearing live starting at 2:30 p.m. eastern here on c-span 3. >> this weekend c-span cities tour takes you to selma, alabama. with the help of our spectrum cable partners we will cross the iconic edmond pettus bridge arriving at a town known for its role in the civil war and civil
rights movement. saturday at 5:30 p.m. eastern on book tv we will visit the home of martin luther king jr. used as his cell ma headquarters as he planned the selma to montgomery cha rch that's featured in the book "the house by the side of the road." there was a photographer here who worked for life magazine at the time who was embedded in the house and he wanted to capture dr. king's emotions as he watched on television president johnson committing to signing the voting rights act. this is the chair that dr. king was sitting in that night watching that television. president johnson addressed the nation. >> and we will meet the first african-american fire chief in the city, chief henry allen talking about his book kwsh marching through the flame. >> on sunday at 1:30 p.m. eastern on american history tv we will look at the voting rights movement that started in the 1930s and visit several
locations around the town that were integral to the movement and then a visit to the edmond pettus bridge looking at the role the bridge played before and after the battle for civil rights. >> anyone who goes after this bridge they receive this name and it has evoked a sense of the past and present. this he come together so you have a modern bridge stamped with the name of a key voice for white supremacy in the south. >> watch the tour of selma, alabama, saturday at 5:30 p.m. eastern on c-span 2's book tv and american history tv on c-span 3. working with our cable affiliates as we explore america. >> the ninth circuit court of appeals heard oral argument over president trump's decision to end the deferred action for childhood arrivals daca program. the three-judge panel will consider whether the president had the legal authority to rescind the immigration program that was started under his
predecessor barack obama. the case regents of the university of california versus department of homeland security is about an hour. >> good afternoon, everyone. this is the time for the hearing on regents of the university of california versus the department of homeland security. i understand that counsel has put their time three ways and you are to inform the court what your division of time will be. >> yes, your honor, michael monahan for the state of california. we will be dividing our minutes 14 minutes for the state, eight minutes for the regents and eight minutes for the individual plaintiffs, mr. davidson will be arguing for the regents and mr. rosen baum for the individual plaintiffs. >> >> all right. you may proceed.