Good morning. We are here today to consider three nominations for the Environmental Protection Agency: Michelle DePass for Assistant Administrator of the Office of International Affairs, Mathy Stanislaus for Assistant Administrator of the Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response, and Cynthia Giles for Assistant Administrator of the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. I want to extend a welcome to all of you and your families here today.
I have had the pleasure of meeting with all three of these nominees, and I look forward to working with each of them. One thing that concerns me, however, is that the Obama EPA is becoming top heavy with nominees from one region of the country. Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “Difference of opinion is the one crime which Kings never forgive.” In our geographically diverse democracy, decision-making and policy at the federal level are usually influenced by regional differences. I would argue this influence is a positive one. Unfortunately, I don’t see this kind of regional diversity at the Obama EPA. Ms. DePasse and Mr. Stanislaus are from New York City; Ms. Giles is from Rhode Island. That’s fine, so far as it goes. Yet all three of these candidates are from urban centers on the East Coast. Couple these nominees with Gina McCarthy, who is from Massachusetts, and Administrator Lisa Jackson, who is from New Jersey, and you have an EPA team with little direct knowledge of the middle of the country. What is good for the East Cost is not necessarily good for the rest of the United States.
EPA is grappling with policy decisions that could have serious impacts on Rural America, though it will not have a voice in the current Obama EPA. I hope the nominees will assure me today that they will bring balance to their decision-making, specifically by reaching out to rural communities to seek their input. What you do at EPA is important to Oklahomans, Ohioans, Tennesseans, Minnesotans, and many other parts of the country. To be successful in formulating policy, to make it work for everyone, you must have a national perspective.
Finally, I want to repeat a simple principle that I have been advocating for my entire political career: we need to balance environmental protection with concern for how decisions affect the economy, and the people who run this great machine called. Achieving this balance, as well as broadening the agency’s geographical focus in decision-making, will be essential in promoting our economic recovery.