January 29, 2014
Dear Dr. Davis, Ms. Parke and Ms. Petersen,
Thank you for your letter regarding transparency and media access, two issues the Environmental Protection Agency -- whose mission is rooted in science and dedicated to protecting public health and safeguarding the environment -- takes very seriously.
As with any emergency response, EPA’s first priority is working with state and local officials to ensure the safety of the public. In the case of the West Virginia chemical spill, the state’s Department of Environmental Protection is the lead agency responsible for overseeing and coordinating the response activities. EPA has offered support and continues to work closely with the state and other federal and state agencies.
EPA began receiving and responding to media inquiries regarding the spill on January 10. Since then, we have responded directly and in a timely fashion to inquiries from more than two dozen media outlets, providing information on a wide range of issues, including the agency’s role in the response, known information about the chemicals spilled, and EPA’s regulatory authorities.
As we have throughout the spill response, EPA remains committed to transparency and helping reporters and the public understand the potential risks associated with the spill, the various roles of state, local and federal governments, as well as the role of the company involved, in responding to an environmental disaster.
Environmental Protection Agency
Associate Administrator for External Affairs