Sullivan Jousts with EPA’s McCarthy

U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan today engaged the head of the EPA, Gina McCarthy, in a testy exchange. Sullivan’s focus was the EPA’s proposed rule for the Clean Water Act. But first the senator extracted some crow from McCarthy for dissing gifts given to her when she visited Alaska last year. Sullivan says her reference to a jar of moose meat that could “gag a maggot” was disrespectful to Alaskans.

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“It doesn’t show that you’re focused on serving the people that you’re required to do,” Sullivan said. “Have you had the opportunity to make a comment on that, apologize? If you’d like to apologize here publicly, that would be fine.”

McCarthy didn’t hesitate.

“I’m happy to apologize for those remarks,” she said. “I will tell you that they were taken out of context but it doesn’t matter because they hurt individuals whose lives I care about.”

“They sure did,” Sullivan said.

McCarthy has repeatedly apologized for the gift gaffes, beginning days after the remarks were published in a Wall Street Journal profile of her.

Sullivan moved on to the Clean Water Act rule. Sullivan says a lot of Americans think the rule is an unconstitutional expansion of the Clean Water Act, beyond what Congress has approved.

“I asked for the legal analysis that you said your agency undertook that says the Waters of the U.S., the regulation you have, is a legitimate agency function because it’s based in statute. You said you were going to provide that. We have not seen that,” he said.

McCarthy pledged to give Sullivan a copy of the rule, which she says includes legal analysis.

The rule is highly controversial, with some opponents saying it will regulate ditches and puddles. More than a million people have submitted comments on it.

McCarthy says the rule is a clarification to comply with Supreme Court rulings and, compared to current regulation, shrinks the acreage covered by the Clean Water Act.