Environmental Protection Agency officials lied when they said a top official used his private email only once for public business, a Republican senator said Friday as he released copies of several emails in which that official conducted business with the EPA’s director and with outside groups.
The revelation from Louisiana Sen. David Vitter, ranking Republican on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, comes on the heels of charges from Republicans and a private sector author that former agency Director Lisa P. Jackson also had a private email address she used to avoid open-government transparency laws.
All government business is required to be done on official emails so that it is available for open-records requests. But James Martin, who resigned earlier this year as administrator of EPA’s Region 8, used his email to give advice to the Environmental Defense Fund and to correspond with Ms. Jackson.
Neither Mr. Martin nor EPA responded to requests for comment.
“EPA should start owning up to the facts piling up before them. Their blatant disregard for proper procedure and transparency is now being regularly exposed, and EPA’s leadership must be held accountable,” Mr. Vitter said.
Mr. Martin and Ms. Jackson both resigned last month, after Mr. Vitter and Rep. Darrell E. Issa, California Republican and chairman of the House oversight committee, began an investigation into the emails.
In one of the emails released by Mr. Vitter, Mr. Martin advised the Environmental Defense Fund, an environmental group, about where hearings on EPA rules for greenhouse gases should be held for maximum effect. Mr. Martin said holding the hearing in Denver “will make Roy Palmer nervous” — apparently a reference to a senior vice president for public policy at giant Minneapolis utility holding company Xcel Energy Inc.
In other emails, Mr. Martin talked about scheduling matters.
Researcher Chris Horner first raised the alarm about the EPA’s use of alternate emails last year when he revealed Ms. Jackson used an alternate email under the alias “Richard Windsor.”
The EPA acknowledged the former director used that secondary email but said it was standard practice since her main email was publicly listed on the agency’s website. EPA said emails from the secondary address had always been available under open-records searches.
Ms. Jackson has been replaced by Acting Administrator Bob Perciasepe. Mr. Vitter said he, too, used his personal email for official business.
President Obama on March 4 nominated Gina McCarthy, currently the agency’s assistant administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation, to head the agency in his second term.