Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Tuesday he has asked President Donald Trump to respond to a request from the Senate for a report from the Interior Department on how to ensure the Trump administration can safely clean up hazardous waste.
McConnell made the request in a letter to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, both of whom have been leading the federal cleanup efforts following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
The Senate is expected to consider Perdue’s nomination for the post, which would take over from Zinke.
The letter comes as the Trump White House has struggled to address the oil spill, which has claimed more than 11,000 lives and displaced nearly 8,000.
Zinke said last week he would “look into” the report from Interior and is considering whether to send it to the Senate, which is expected this week.
“While I do not believe the President has the authority to unilaterally authorize the removal of hazardous wastes, the fact that he did in his recent statement indicates that he does not have the ability to enforce any of the existing federal laws.” “
As you know, I have a very long history of working to ensure safe and clean transportation of hazardous materials,” McConnell wrote.
“While I do not believe the President has the authority to unilaterally authorize the removal of hazardous wastes, the fact that he did in his recent statement indicates that he does not have the ability to enforce any of the existing federal laws.”
Zinke responded to McConnell’s letter on Tuesday, telling The Associated Press he was “not aware of any existing law that specifically authorizes the removal and transportation of these hazardous waste.”
The White House and Zinck were not immediately available for comment.
Zinck has faced bipartisan criticism for not doing enough to clean up the oil spills, as well as for not addressing the environmental impact of the oil industry on the Gulf.
A federal environmental review of the spill was completed in January and was completed by the end of May.
The Interior Department has not yet provided a timetable for the final report.
The EPA’s response to the spill has been delayed and the EPA has not released its final report, according to Reuters.
Trump’s EPA chief, Scott Pruitt, has also faced criticism for his handling of the pollution.
Pruitt has also denied any wrongdoing, but the White House recently fired him after he said he had “been in the position for years where there was nothing wrong” with his work as the EPA’s administrator.
The administration has said Pruitt did not follow proper procedures when he fired former EPA chief Gina McCarthy and has faced criticism from lawmakers who say Pruitt should have been more transparent about his actions.