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‘Un-American’ charge ignites hearing on EPA rules

‘Un-American’ charge ignites hearing on EPA rules

A House Republican on Wednesday accused the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of acting in an “un-American” way, leading to a tense shouting match at a committee hearing. 

Rep. Bill Johnson (R-Ohio) told a top EPA official that her agency is “draining the lifeblood out of our businesses” through its regulations, adding that, “I think it’s absurd, I think it’s irresponsible, I think honestly it’s un-American. Your department doesn’t have a concern for the very people who create jobs in this country.”

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Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) replied that he was “a little taken back by the hostility I hear in this room,” a charge that prompted Johnson to say he was trying to “hold the EPA accountable.”

“If we’re not going to do it, then who is going to do it?" he asked.

Janet McCabe, an acting assistant administrator at the EPA, was at a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing Wednesday to defend the agency’s rulemaking under President Obama. 

She was peppered with questions from Republicans about the impact those regulations have on jobs in the energy sector around the country, while Democrats defended both McCabe and the EPA after Johnson’s “un-American” charge.

“My side has sat here very patiently and calmly while this witness, who by every indication has worked tirelessly on behalf of the American people — to be called un-American, that’s absurd,” said Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.), the ranking member of the subcommittee. 

“That’s extreme, if you don’t agree with the facts, then all of a sudden you’re called un-American. There is no place in this hearing for a witness, being from the witness from the EPA or whatever agency it is, to be called un-American.”

Rush later said McCabe had been "badgered and badgered" by Republicans after Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.) accused her of working "against the [coal] industry since day one" of her career. 

Subcommittee Chairman Ed WhitfieldWayne (Ed) Edward WhitfieldWhy Republicans took aim at an ethics watchdog What Azerbaijan wants from Israel? Overnight Energy: Green group sues Exxon over climate science MORE (R-Ky.) defended the Republicans’ approach. 

“There are very strong feelings on this issue because many people believe that EPA is exceeding its legal authority under the direction of a president who is trying to impose his view on climate change around the world,” he said.