(Remarks as prepared for delivery)
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is charged with protecting public health and the environment under our nation’s environmental laws. EPA serves as the steward of our clean air, drinking water, lakes and rivers, and the agency works to protect our children, families and communities from hazardous waste, toxic chemicals and many other dangerous forms of pollution.
The EPA Inspector General is EPA’s conscience. The IG’s duty is to ensure that EPA’s actions are free of waste, fraud and abuse. Any person nominated to serve in this position must meet a high standard for impartiality, integrity and independence.
Federal law requires IGs to be selected “without regard to political affiliation and solely on the basis of integrity and demonstrated ability in accounting, auditing, financial analysis, law, management analysis, public administration, or investigations.”
For the past 16 years, Mr. Elkins has worked in public service, including as a public defender, prosecutor, counsel to the Inspector General of the
National Science Foundation and as Associate General Counsel for EPA’s General Law Office.
Mr. Elkins, this is a tough, tough job, but also a vitally important job -- and I think for anyone who truly believes in public service, it can be extremely rewarding work.
If confirmed, you will provide EPA with information and recommendations that can help the Agency better achieve its goals of protecting public health and the environment. If confirmed, you can help the agency to achieve its mission to:
· Clean up more toxic waste sites to safeguard the health of our communities and to allow them to invest in redevelopment and jobs;
· Reduce air pollution so that our children do not suffer from asthma attacks and our people do not suffer from cardiovascular, respiratory, and other illnesses that are caused by pollution;
· Ensure families have safe water to drink and clean lakes, rivers and beaches to enjoy.
The Office of Inspector General plays a key oversight role at the agency and this office is in need of strong leadership. I look forward to hearing from you today on how you will address these critical issues.
We also have Mr. Gohl before us today who has been nominated to be Federal Co-Chair of the Appalachian Regional Commission. Congress created the Commission to devise regional economic development initiatives involving federal, state, and local governments, as well as community leaders.
During this tough economic time, the Commission needs a leader who is dedicated to providing opportunities for people to get back to work and for communities to reinvest in their economic future.
Mr. Blitz is also before us today and has been nominated to be the Federal Co-Chair of the Northern Border Regional Commission.
The commission is an organization created to address the economic and community development challenges of the northern and most economically distressed counties of the states of Maine, New Hampshire, New York and Vermont.
The Federal Co-Chair of the Northern Border Regional Commission works with the governors of those four states to identify needs and existing assets, develop economic and infrastructure strategies and make grants to support economic development. The commission’s purpose is to create and implement regional economic development plans to reduce poverty, address changing land use, and improve quality of life. The Commission’s focus is on infrastructure, telecommunications, health care, transportation and energy.
I look forward to your testimony today.