EPA: Some of Our Emails Have Been Lost as Well

Daniel Doherty

6/25/2014 3:55:00 PM - Daniel Doherty

Apparently this wasn’t just an isolated incident: a second federal agency is also having trouble finding emails that a congressional committee is demanding in order to fulfill its oversight responsibilities:

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the IRS share a problem: officials say they cannot provide the emails a congressional committee has requested because an employee’s hard drive crashed.

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy confirmed to the House Oversight Committee Wednesday that her staff is unable to provide lawmakers all of the documents they have requested on the proposed Pebble Mine in Alaska, because of a 2010 computer crash.

“We’re having trouble getting the data off of it and we’re trying other sources to actually supplement that,” McCarthy said. “We’re challenged in figuring out where those small failures might have occurred and what caused them occur, but we’ve produced a lot of information.”

More details:

The committee suspects that Phillip North, who worked for the EPA in Alaska, decided with his colleagues to veto the proposed Pebble Mine near Bristol Bay in 2009, before the agency even began researching its potential impacts on the environment.

Committee staffers have been trying for about a year to interview North, but he has been in New Zealand and refuses to cooperate, they said.

“We have tried to serve a subpoena on your former employee and we have asked for the failed hard drive from this Alaskan individual who now is in New Zealand, and seems to never be returning,” Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), the committee’s chairman, said Wednesday.

Emails provided by the committee show that EPA told congressional investigators about the hard drive crash months ago. But McCarthy said she only told the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) about the problem Tuesday.

Ah, so the guy Issa’s been trying to subpoena for alleged criminal wrongdoing is living in a foreign country and ignoring his inquires. Meanwhile, the hard drive that might have stored potentially incriminating emails on it has conveniently “crashed.”

Any takers on what the third federal agency will be to accidentally “lose” relevant and potentially damaging internal emails? It’s only a matter of time.