Some House Republicans joined Democrats yesterday in the tongue-lashing Environmental Protection Agency administrator Anne M. Gorsuch has been getting on Capitol Hill recently, even as the White House appeared to be coming to her defense.
Under heavy bipartisan fire for her proposed budget cuts and policy changes at EPA, Gorsuch nonetheless got a telephone call last weekend from President Reagan "just telling her she was doing a good job and to keep it up," according to an aide.
Other EPA and White House sources confirmed that high-level complaints about Gorsuch's frosty inaccessibility to state officials, industry executives and even her own senior managers had subsided over the past 10 days. "All the right people are attacking her to make her look good up here," summed up one official.
Gorsuch kept at it before the House energy and commerce subcommittee on natural resources and the environment, defending her sharp cuts in EPA's research and development budget as needed to correct duplication, sloppy research and overmanagement.
EPA's office of research and development appears to have "a higher priority on paperwork than on research," she said, and it suffers from "an atmosphere of continuous crisis management." Calling the situation "tragic," Gorsuch said she was reorganizing the office toward research with "more relevance to the agency's regulatory program."
She promised subcommittee Chairman Rep. James H. Scheuer (D-N.Y.) that EPA would research the long-term health effects of synthetic fuels, some of which have been linked to cancer and birth defects in laboratory animals. But Rep. Albert V. Gore Jr. (D-Tenn.) accused her of a lack of candor since her 1983 budget proposal shows zero funding for long-term health research.
"The game is up. The glittering generalities are not going to cut it any more," Gore said. "You may just need to change your approach."
Gorsuch responded that she could keep her promise and have her budget too, using other line items. Her statement noted that most long term research is to be handled at the National Institutes of Health.
Rep. Claudine Schneider (R-R.I.), who has repeatedly attacked administration subsidies to industry as bad economics, voiced concern that Gorsuch's plans to boost peer review of EPA research "may be just a polite word for political censorship."
Another House committee had attacked Gorsuch and her deputy, Dr. John Hernandez, on Wednesday for holding a series of private scientific review meetings with chemical industry representatives during debate on regulation of chemicals in which they had an interest.
Rep. William Carney (R-N.Y.) joined in the general worry over Gorsuch's pending research budget cuts, saying he was "appalled" by them and had "no confidence in your magic solutions."