- The Washington Times - Monday, July 7, 2014

Several prominent House Republicans are calling for a change in leadership at the U.S. Chemical Safety Board after multiple accusations of a culture of intimidation within the agency.

“Chairman Moure-Eraso’s leadership is making it difficult for the agency to fulfill its mission. Immediate change in CSB leadership is necessary to allow this besieged agency to heal and regain focus on its public safety mission,” said a letter sent Monday by six top lawmakers to the White House.

The letter comes less than a month after a hearing of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee looked into whether CSB leader Rafael Moure-Eraso was abusing his power.

Mr. Moure-Eraso may have retaliated against whistleblowers who reported problems at the agency, while promoting those who leaked to him the names of the whistleblowers, according to evidence uncovered by the Oversight and Science, Space and Technology Committees, as well as the Environmental Protection Agency inspector general.

The result has been an exodus of qualified safety inspectors and other staff, lawmakers said, hampering the agency’s main mission of investigating hazardous chemical accidents — with some reviews taking as long as four or five years.

“Under Chairman Moure-Eraso, CSB leadership engaged in a pattern of hostility toward career staff and whistleblowers,” said the letter from lawmakers.

They said the chairman took “extraordinary steps” to thwart investigations into his office, including going so far as to hire a lawyer from outside the government to defend his agency.

In June, former CSB board member Beth Rosenberg told lawmakers that “the agency is broken, it needs to be rebuilt.” Ms. Rosenberg resigned after only 17 months at the agency, citing what she said was a toxic work environment.

Now Congress seems to be supporting that rebuilding, asking the president to “consider whether Chairman Moure-Eraso is the right person to continue to lead the CSB.”

The letter was signed by the leaders of the two House Committees, Reps. Darrell Issa and Lamar Smith, and by Reps. John Mica, Michael Turner, Paul Gosar and Jason Chaffetz.

Though only Republicans signed the letter sent Monday, Democrats in the House have supported fixing the problem as well.

“It is critical that the CSB function properly. This agency is responsible for investigating tragic accidents and making recommendations to protect the safety of workers and the public,” Rep. Elijah Cummings, the top Democrat on the Oversight Committee, said in June.

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