Mr. Chairman, Senator Jeffords and distinguished members of the Committee, thank you for the privilege of coming before you today as the nominee for the position of Assistant Administrator for the Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response. I’m honored that President Bush, Administrator Johnson and this Committee are considering me for this position.
I am proud to introduce my husband, David Bodine, and my 2 sons Christopher and Steven. I would also like to thank Chairman Duncan and my many colleagues for their support and friendship.
I have worked on environmental issues for my entire 17-year professional career, first as a practicing attorney and than as a counsel to the Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.
In private practice, I learned the substance of our environmental laws. But, I also learned from experience that the best way to approach a cleanup problem was from a technical and engineering perspective. I found it most rewarding to work on cases where the parties were willing to get all the scientists in a room to work out the most cost-effective way of cleaning up hazardous waste or a Superfund site.
I also found it very rewarding to work with clients to keep them in compliance with the law. This was challenging. Many environmental regulations, particularly RCRA regulations, are extremely complex.
When I moved to the Hill to work on the staff of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, I kept the same objectives and the same approach: focus on the outcome – a clean environment. And, try to ensure that the laws that are established to achieve this outcome are clear, understandable, and workable.
It is my experience that even when an issue is contentious or complex, if you start by identifying a goal it becomes much easier to find common ground. Once a common goal is established, reaching agreement becomes much more likely.
As this Committee knows, this was the process used to develop the Small Business Liability Relief and Brownfields Revitalization Act, which became law in January 2002. To reach agreement on title I of that Act, environmental and business groups had to agree that liability against small business owners for municipal solid waste did not facilitate cleanups. To reach agreement on title II of that Act, municipal groups, developers and environmental groups all had to agree that stimulating brownfields redevelopment was an important goal, and that it was acceptable to revise Superfund liability to achieve that goal.
This process also was used to develop the Great Lakes Legacy Act of 2002. Both the Sierra Club Great Lakes Program and the Council of Great Lakes Industries had reached the conclusion that something had to be done to create incentives and leverage other programs to accelerate clean up of the Great Lakes Areas of Concern. The result was that legislation.
Similarly, in 2000, when Congress started work on beach monitoring issues, environmental groups and States had very different views about how to create beach water quality monitoring programs. By bringing environmental groups, States, and EPA together, Congress was able to formulate legislation that greatly improved beach water quality monitoring, without placing an unfunded mandate on States.
EPA employed this approach when it developed its Superfund Administrative Reforms, beginning in 1995. These reforms were based on the goal of making Superfund cleanups more cost-effective and timely. To achieve this goal, the Agency reached a consensus with stakeholders that not every site had to be cleaned up to background levels. Taking future land use into account and focusing on principal threats has allowed EPA to help bring more sites back into productive use.
If confirmed by the Senate, I would take the same consensus-building approach to my new duties at the Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response. I know we share the goal of protecting the environment. I know we share the goal of seeing hazardous waste sites cleaned up more quickly. I know we share the goal of making environmental regulations clear and understandable.
If confirmed by the Senate, I will work with you to on a bi-partisan basis to find sustainable solutions to achieve these goals. American citizens expect and deserve both a thriving economy and a clean, safe and secure environment.
In particular, I am very excited about the opportunity to work with Administrator Johnson as a member of his team as we accelerate the pace of environmental protection; use environmental protection as a driving force of economic growth; promote a culture of environmental responsibility; and continue to ensure compliance of our nation’s environmental laws. To meet this challenge, EPA must not only implement and enforce the laws enacted by Congress, it must be innovative, form partnerships, and leverage private investment.
In closing, I look forward to any questions you or your colleagues may have. Thank you. I ask that my statement be placed in the record in its entirety.