1982 Scorecard Vote
Adoption of H. Res. 632 citing Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Anne Gorsuch (now Anne Burford) in Contempt of Congress because she refused, on the President's orders, to give a House subcommittee thousands of subpoenaed documents regarding EPA's enforcement of the Superfund toxic waste cleanup law. Congress has a constitutional responsibility to make sure that the laws it enacts are properly carried out, and must have access to documents to do this. There is substantial evidence of mismanagement, conflict of interest and political favoritism in EPA's enforcement of the law, some of which may be criminal.
The Superfund law was enacted in 1980 to clean up the 418 worst abandoned toxic waste dumps over the next 5 years. In her two years in office, Gorsuch has begun only 5 cleanups. 87.5% of the cleanup costs come from a tax on oil and chemical companies, but the money for administration and enforcement of the program must come directly from federal appropriations to EPA, which is so underfunded and mismanaged that $350 million in industry tax money is now sitting waiting in a bank. EPA is also required by law to recover cleanup costs directly from the companies responsible for individual toxic dumps, but EPA has been accused of making sweetheart deals with the dumpers, settling for a fraction of the true costs and absolving them from further legal responsibility. EPA's top Superfund official, Rita Lavelle, was wined and dined by these companies in violation of EPA rules. One former EPA official continued to represent private clients that benefited from the agency's hazardous waste regulations while he was still at EPA. Other top officials have been accused of postponing toxic waste cleanups until after the 1982 elections, to hurt Democratic candidates in those districts.
Administration claims of "executive privilege" over "enforcement sensitive" documents are very flimsy. The subpoenaed documents were not prepared for the President, and were never seen by him or even by EPA's General Counsel. The cases involved do not rely on surprise; EPA has tried to settle most of them out of court. There are no national security issues involved. Since the citation, EPA has shredded documents and erased computer memory banks. Resolution adopted 259-105; December 16, 1982. YES is the pro-environmental vote.