Just hours after Congress shellacked the IRS over emails allegedly lost after a hard drive crash, the Environmental Protection Agency says it's having its own computer issues and may have also lost emails that Congress is seeking.
EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy told Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) that the EPA is still wrestling with how to recover emails from a former EPA official based in Alaska, who was involved in decision to block a proposed mining operation. Meadows pressed McCarthy on how progress was coming along, and McCarthy admitted there are problems.
Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy admitted Wednesday that the EPA may not be able to find every email Congress has subpoenaed, a problem that seems to be sweeping the nation's capitol. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)
"I don't believe this is a missing hard drive issue. There's a challenge getting access to the data," she said. "We're increasingly getting information in different ways and we're taking a look at it."
McCarthy never attributed it to a computer crash, like the IRS did in the case of Lois Lerner. Instead, she said it's a problem that involves multiple failures.
"We are talking about a series of emails where it's not one particular incident," she said. "It's an individual that's located in the Kenai Peninsula [Alaska].
"We're challenged in terms of trying to figure out where those small failures might have occurred and what caused them to occur," she said, adding that she is still hopeful that all the emails can be recovered.
Republicans have blasted the IRS all week not only for losing Lerner's emails, but for failing to tell Congress until two months went by, and for failing to inform the government's record-keepers about the loss as required by law. Current law says agency chiefs must tell the National Archives whenever emails or other records are lost.
When Meadows asked if the EPA has told the National Archives, McCarthy said the EPA did take that step.
"When did you do that?" he asked.
"Yesterday," McCarthy said.