After yesterday’s news about the ouster of Mary Gade from the head of the EPA’s Midwest office, the next question is who, if anyone, is looking into whether her firing came at the behest of Dow Chemical and the White House.
According to EPA spokesperson Jonathan Shradar, no internal investigation into the circumstances of Gade’s dismissal is planned. “This is a role that serves at the pleasure of the administration, and [EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson] makes the decision of keeping people in place, and he made the decision. It’s a politically appointed position, just like mine,” said Shradar. “We have the expectation that we’re here to do a job, and we serve at the leisure of the president, or in this case the leisure of the administrator.”
Asked about next steps the EPA would be taking following Gade’s dismissal, Schradar said the Dow cleanup efforts would continue, though he is “not sure if that’s related to [Gade’s] administrative leave or not.” Gade’s deputy, Bharat Mathur, has assumed administrative duties as of yesterday, he added.
Any internal investigation would likely be handled by the EPA Office of the Inspector General, the oversight arm of the agency charged with evaluating and investigating happenings within the EPA. They don’t have anything underway either. “At this point, it’s a personnel matter,” said John Manibusan, press spokesperson for the Office of the Inspector General.
Congress, however, may take up the matter. Today Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) spoke out on the firing on the Senate floor, comparing it to the U.S. attorney scandal. He said an investigation into Gade’s dismissal would be included in an Environment and Public Works Committee oversight hearing on the politicization of the EPA scheduled for this coming Wednesday.
On the House side, according to an Energy and Commerce Committee spokesperson, Committee Chair John Dingell (D-Mich) “is concerned about this and has asked his oversight staff to look into it.”
[UPDATE: Fixed to say “pleasure” instead of “leisure.” Thanks for the correction, Adam.]