Thank you, Chairman Boxer, for calling this hearing today. I welcome you, Ms. McCarthy, to our committee and I look forward to working with you.
The Office of Air and Radiation at the Environmental Protection Agency issues regulations that protect the air we breathe. Those regulations also significantly impact the American economy. For these reasons, the job of assistant administrator for air entails serious responsibilities. This committee and the full Senate, therefore, must thoroughly assess the qualifications of the nominee to head the office.
I understand, Madam Chairman, that you wish to hold a business meeting on Ms. McCarthy’s nomination the week we return from recess. At this point, I have no objection to that schedule. But first, I need to provide a little historical context. The Senate has not confirmed a nominee for this position in 8 years—due entirely to opposition from my colleagues on the other side of the aisle.
Opposition arose from allegations that nominees failed to provide timely and complete answers to questions submitted to them. In effect, Madam Chairman, a standard was set by you and your colleagues: in order to advance this nomination as expeditiously as possible, the minority will need timely and complete answers to our questions. Let’s hope that occurs.
As I indicated earlier, the next Assistant Administrator for Air will face several daunting regulatory challenges. Let me list a few: meeting new deadlines for attainment of national ambient air quality standards; addressing interstate air pollution; continuing reductions in mercury and other hazardous air pollutants; implementing the next phase of the renewable fuel standard; and a pending decision on the California waiver.
Ms. McCarthy, these issues by themselves will overwhelm your calendar. And yet as time-consuming as these policies will be, they will pale in comparison to what will ensue if CO2 becomes a regulated pollutant under the Clean Air Act. If EPA makes an endangerment finding under the Act—and according to recent news accounts, this decision has already been made by the Administration—it could extend EPA’s regulatory reach into every corner of the U.S. economy.
Ms. McCarthy, I hope that you will approach pending decisions on greenhouse gas regulation with great care and, to the extent you can, ensure that concerns from small businesses, families, and every American who uses energy receive a proper hearing. I
had the pleasure of meeting you briefly yesterday, and I value your commitment to public service. You have an impressive background in serving Connecticut and Massachusetts with distinction. I look forward to hearing more about your record today.
As you well know, Ms. McCarthy, there is an enormous amount at stake here. If the policies pursued are not pursued with great care and restraint, this great machine we call America will grind to a halt. That’s something I know everyone here wants to avoid. So I urge you to work with us—majority and minority—in addressing the issues now before us and those yet to come.