A Missouri senator said he is placing a hold on the nomination of Gina McCarthy for head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) until the Obama administration says when it will release a draft environmental impact statement (EIS) for a water project in his state.

In late February Republican Sen. Roy Blunt and Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill brought the EPA, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Fish and Wildlife Service together to resolve disputes that are delaying a final decision on the St. John Bayou and New Madrid Floodway Project. The agencies set March 15 as the deadline to resolve their differences and move forward on a final decision.

But last Friday the three agencies failed to meet their self-imposed deadline and told the senators that they did not know when they would issue the draft EIS.

“Once again, the government is arguing with the government while nothing is accomplished…That’s why I’m placing a hold on the EPA administrator until the Obama administration can provide us with a concrete timeline” for the water project, Blunt said. A hold is a threat to filibuster a Senate nomination. A hold would need the support of at least 60 senators to prevent a nomination from going through.

“This is another outrageous example of the government arguing with the government while nothing is accomplished…This delay is ridiculous, and I’ll continue pressing these agencies to get on the same page and release the draft [EIS] for public review as soon as possible.”

The proposed St. Johns Bayou and New Madrid Floodway Project would install pumping stations and close a 1,500-foot gap in the Mississippi River levee system.

President Obama earlier this month gave his official nod to EPA air pollution official McCarthy as his choice to head the agency (see Daily GPI, March 5). Her nomination was greeted with concern by the oil and gas industry, and support from environmental groups. The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee has yet to schedule a hearing to consider her nomination.

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