- The Washington Times - Monday, March 18, 2013

The Obama administration’s choice to head the Environmental Protection Agency is the latest Cabinet nominee to face stiff resistance from Republicans.

Sen. Roy Blunt said Monday that he will place a hold on Gina McCarthy, poised to take over the reins of the EPA, until the Obama administration sets a clear time frame for its study of a long-delayed levee project in the senator’s home state of Missouri.

“Once again, the government is arguing with the government while nothing is accomplished,” said Mr. Blunt, blaming poor communication and coordination between federal agencies for the lack of progress on the proposed St. Johns Bayou and New Madrid Floodway Project.

The project would close a sizable gap in the Mississippi River’s levee system, lessening the potential for flooding in parts of southeast Missouri.

But before it can be built, the EPA, Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service must complete a detailed environmental statement.

The deadline to provide senators with an update on the study was last Friday, a date that came and went with no word on the project, according to Mr. Blunt and his Missouri counterpart, Sen. Claire McCaskill, a Democrat.

“We’re incredibly disappointed and frustrated that a final resolution is still caught up in ridiculous and unnecessary government bureaucracy,” the two senators said in a joint statement. “These agencies missed their own self-imposed deadline to get on the same page and provide us with answers.”

The Army Corps of Engineers plans to address Mr. Blunt’s questions and provide an update on the project this week.

“We are working closely with the senator’s office and will meet with him Wednesday,” Corps spokesman Bob Anderson said.

The looming hold adds another layer of difficulty to what already is expected to be a tough confirmation process for Ms. McCarthy.

It also is the latest in a series of setbacks for the administration’s would-be Cabinet officials. Also Monday, Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana said he will block Thomas E. Perez, the president’s pick to head the Labor Department.

Two weeks ago, Sen. Rand Paul, Kentucky Republican, launched a 13-hour filibuster that temporarily blocked the nomination of CIA Director John O. Brennan, citing concerns over the White House’s drone policy.



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