What was she texting? A think tank wants to read messages sent by Gina McCarthy, the nominee to head the EPA. (JOSHUA ROBERTS/REUTERS)

The Loop had a good chuckle when Gina McCarthy, the nominee to head the Environmental Protection Agency, joked during one of her confirmation hearings that she couldn’t possibly misuse instant messaging — because she was too old to know how to use the technology in the first place.

But what about her mastery of another form of communication favored by the young folk? The Competitive Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank that has long been critical of the agency, is suing to uncover text messages the organization says McCarthy sent during her Capitol Hill hearings. CEI spokesman Brian McNicoll says the think tank learned from a “source within the agency” that McCarthy was using her government-issued phone to send texts during the sessions.

According to a court filing, CEI says that “a senior Agency official cautioned McCarthy to cease using that function on her PDA, due to concerns about the propriety of her texting about Members of Congress specifically on days when she testified before either the House or Senate.”

CEI filed requests for the texts under the Freedom of Information Act, but the EPA didn’t provide them within the 20 days required by the disclosure law. The EPA didn’t respond to the Loop’s request for comment.

Aside from wondering what, exactly, McCarthy said about the lawmakers peppering her with questions (potential snark alert!), CEI is also hoping to bring attention to the issue of text messages being among the agency records that are obtainable by FOIA.

McNicoll says the EPA has yet to turn over text messages either in response to FOIA requests or requests from congressional oversight investigators. The think tank has long been critical of the EPA’s recordkeeping, and played a role in revealing that former EPA administrator Lisa Jackson and others used e-mail accounts with fake names to conduct agency business.

In other words, nothing to LOL about.