EPA inspector general making enemies on Capitol Hill

Nikki Tinsley, the inspector general of the U.S. EPA, is ruffling feathers in Washington, D.C., these days. A registered independent appointed by President Clinton in 1999, she has developed a reputation for integrity, professionalism, and steely resolve. She views her job not simply as monitoring for fraud and waste, but ensuring that the EPA is doing its work effectively. Several reports critical of the agency’s work — its lagging clean-air litigation, its lack of progress on reducing smog in major cities, etc. — were released by her office last year, some at the height of the election season. Some powerful Republicans have taken a dislike to her and accuse her of partisanship. One GOP staffer said the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee might open an investigation into her alleged bias. But Tinsley isn’t likely to get out of anyone’s hair soon; IG appointments are not term-limited, and administrations rarely act to remove IGs from office.

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