WASHINGTON, DC – Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Chairman of the Environment & Public Works Committee, blasted Senate Democrats for blocking the nominations of three EPA nominees including Alex Beehler to be Inspector General of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), William Wehrum to head the EPA Office of Air and Radiation, and Roger Martella, nominated to be the EPA General Counsel.
“Senate Democrat’s obstructionist tactics of highly qualified EPA nominees has become standard operating procedure,” Senator Inhofe said. “Alex Beeehler, Bill Wehrum, and Roger Martella, are just the latest to join the impressive list of EPA nominees to be blocked by Senate Democrats that has previously included current EPA Administrator Steve Johnson and former EPA Administrator Governor Mike Leavitt. Clearly the Democrat’s tactics have little to do with the qualifications of these nominees and everything to do with partisan politics.
“Outrageously, these same Democrats who have blocked confirmation of several EPA nominees now say they intend to hold aggressive oversight hearings of the EPA. Incoming Chairman Barbara Boxer (D-CA) has called for increased EPA oversight, while she, Senator Boxer, together with Senator Wyden (D-OR), continue to hold up EPA nominees. It is particularly disturbing when they hold up career non-partisan environmental professionals such as Roger Martella. It is disingenuous of Senate Democrats to continually deny several EPA Senate confirmed positions, and on the other hand, criticize the Agency’s decisions.”
•Mr. William Wehrum was nominated by the President to head the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) Office of Air and Radiation. The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee favorably reported Mr. Wehrum out of committee back on April 26, 2006. Since Mr. Wehrum began his tenure at the EPA, air pollution has dropped 12%. Mr. Wehrum worked to help craft legislation designed to reduce power plant pollution by 70% - the most dramatic reduction in power plant emissions ever required. When the legislation was blocked by Democrats over an unrelated issue, he helped craft a collection of Clean Air rules to accomplish as much of the reductions as allowed under the current Clean Air Act. One of these rules represents the first time ever that mercury emissions have been regulated. In addition, Mr. Wehrum helped craft the diesel rules now going into effect, which will virtually eliminate sulfur emissions from diesel engines, cutting emissions by 97%.
•Mr. Roger Martella was nominated by President Bush o serve as the EPA General Counsel. The EPW Committee favorably reported Mr. Martella’s nomination on September 26, 2006. Mr. Martella currently serves as Principal Deputy General Counsel of the EPA. Prior to joining EPA, he worked for the Department of Justice's (DOJ's) Environment and Natural Resources Division for seven years, leaving as Principal Counsel for Complex Litigation. He has a substantial background as a career federal employee. It is an insult to the thousands of EPA career federal employees that this nomination is being stalled for political purposes.
•Mr. Alex Beehler was nominated by President Bush just before the August recess and testified before this Committee when the Senate reconvened in September. Although the Committee traditionally votes on a nomination a week after the nominee’s hearing, Committee Democrats requested the Business Meeting be postponed several times. Senator Inhofe obliged in an effort to prevent Mr. Beehler’s nomination from devolving into a partisan battle, which would prevent fair consideration of the nominee. Earlier this week, the Committee favorably reported Mr. Beehler down a party line vote. Immediately following, Senate Democrats announced they had placed a hold on Mr. Beehlers nomination. As a result, the office EPA IG office is the latest position to be left without a Senate confirmed appointment due to Democrat partisan politics.