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Friday, December 14, 2012

The Week Ahead: EPA Administrator Faces House Committee Deadline to Provide Information on Use of 'Secret' Email Accounts

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Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson faces a Dec. 21 deadline to turn over to a House committee information on the use of secondary email accounts to conduct agency business.

Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.) wrote a letter to Jackson Dec. 13 saying questions have been raised about the use of one or more secondary email accounts and aliases by her and potentially other EPA officials. "Given your reported use of at least one alias email account in your conduct of agency business, we write to ask that you describe fully the nature and extent of this practice," the letter said.

As detailed in an Oct. 3 World Climate Change Report article, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank, has sued EPA to force disclosure of records related to top administrators' non-public email accounts, including material on key climate change and air pollution issues (Competitive Enterprise Institute v. EPA, D.D.C., No. 1:12-cv-1617, 9/28/12).

CEI is also seeking records directly related to the agency's "campaign against coal-fired power," which the complaint said was exhibited through EPA limits on air pollutant emissions from power plants and an EPA finding that greenhouse gases pose a danger to public health. The institute discovered the existence of EPA's secondary email accounts through a 2008 agency document obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.

McCarthy to Give Keynote Address

EPA Assistant Administrator Gina McCarthy is scheduled to give the keynote speech Dec. 21 at the New England Electricity Restructuring Roundtable in Boston on what to expect in terms of climate, air, and energy policy during the Obama administration's second term. As covered in a Nov. 7 article, curbing greenhouse gas emissions from power plants, cars, and light trucks has been a top initiative for Obama, and he is expected during the next four years to rely on EPA's existing regulatory authority to address climate change and focus on clean energy issues.

FHWA Webinar

On Dec. 18, the Federal Highway Administration will hold a webinar on its 2013-2014 "Climate Change and Extreme Weather Vulnerability and Adaptation Pilot Program." As detailed in a Dec. 4 article, FHWA is seeking pilot projects from state departments of transportation, metropolitan planning organizations, federal land management agencies, and tribes to conduct analysis in one of two areas: assessments of transportation vulnerability to climate change and extreme weather events, and developing options for improving the resiliency of transportation facilities or systems to climate change or extreme weather events.

DOE Webinar

The Department of Energy's Wind Powering America program will hold a webinar Dec. 19 on plans and activities for 2013, including a proposal for a National Collegiate Wind Competition and new Regional Resource Centers. Webinar speakers include WPA Director Jonathan Bartlett and National Technical Director Ian Baring-Gould.

World Bank Group Event

The World Bank Group will hold an event Dec. 17 in Washington, D.C., to discuss climate change activities, including the release of a report, Adapting to Climate Change: Assessing World Bank Group Experience. Ken Chomitz, the bank group's senior adviser for independent evaluation, will be the featured speaker.

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