Good morning. We are here today to consider two nominations for the Environmental Protection Agency: Colin Scott Fulton to be General Counsel and Paul Anastas to be Assistant Administrator for the Office of Research and Development. I want to welcome both of you and your families here today.
I am looking forward to working with you. There are many challenges ahead for EPA, and I am confident that both of you possess the knowledge and experience to address them with balance, competence, and, just as important, transparency.
On that last point, transparency, I would hope that each of you will treat requests for information from the minority of this committee the same as those from the majority. And I hope that you will fulfill Administrator Jackson’s commitment to maximize public participation and input on the decisions you make.
Thus far, I think the Agency has more work to do to meet Administrator Jackson’s commitment. I have sent several requests for information, including, most recently, a request that EPA re-analyze the economic impacts of Waxman-Markey. I sit here today wondering whether EPA will provide me and my staff with this and other information. This state of affairs does not conform to the stated pledges of Administrator Jackson and other nominees who have appeared before this committee.
In addition to transparency, I hope that you will consider all view-points so that your decision-making reflects a truly national perspective, accounting for regional differences. One thing that concerns me is that, though the Obama EPA has highly competent and experienced nominees, they tend to hail from one part of the country. I do not see much, if any, regional diversity at the Obama EPA. I have said this at prior nominations hearings and I am growing more concerned. Not only are most EPA appointees from the East Coast, most, if not all, are from urban centers. I am deeply concerned that we have an EPA team with little direct knowledge of the middle of the country. What is good for the East Coast 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 I don’t believe Rural America has a voice in the current Obama EPA. I hope the nominees will assure me today that they will reach out to rural communities for their perspective on the important issues facing the agency. What you do at EPA is important to Oklahomans, Ohioans, Tennesseans, Minnesotans, and to other states and regions of the country. To be successful in formulating policy, to make it work for everyone, you must factor these view-points into your decision-making.
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 America. Achieving this balance, as well as broadening the agency’s geographical focus in decision-making, will be essential to achieving the mission of EPA.