The Federal Aviation Administration is dragging its feet on a congressional probe into the agency’s approval of Cape Wind, saying it needs more time to produce a trove of documents and other information requested by a pair of powerful GOP pols.
“We are currently working on a more detailed response to your request and will provide you with that response and relevant documents as soon as possible,” FAA Acting Administrator Michael Huerta wrote in a letter to Reps. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and John Mica (R-Fla.).
The congressmen had set Tuesday as the deadline to provide the information. They launched their probe two weeks ago, after the Herald and the Associated Press reported that FAA officials were keenly aware of the 130-turbine wind farm’s political ramifications while evaluating whether it posed a risk to local air traffic.
The FAA found in May 2010 that it did not pose a risk, despite local air-traffic controllers’ concerns that the turbines would interfere with radar and ensnare low-flying planes. A federal appeals court vacated that finding and ordered the FAA to redo its evaluation. That decision is forthcoming, but the agency has repeatedly refused to say when.
Issa, chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and Mica, chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, have requested reams of documents and other information from the FAA, including:
• Records of communication between the agency and other federal entities, including the White House.
• Lists of meetings between the FAA and other agencies, and with Cape Wind’s developers.
• An explanation of why an FAA manager told employees that refusal of the project would be “difficult politically.”
Issa and Mica also asked whether the Department of the Interior’s approval of the project influenced the FAA’s judgment and, flatly, whether political considerations played a role in the approval.
An FAA spokeswoman declined yesterday to say when, or to what extent, the agency will comply with the congressmen’s request.
Mica’s spokesman did not respond to requests for comment. Issa’s spokesman, Jeffrey Solsby, told the Herald that Issa’s committee “tries to work with agencies that are in the process of complying.”
“But obviously, we expect it within a reasonable time frame,” he said.
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