Vitter Responds to La. House Delegation Opposition to Interior Nominee Suh
Vitter opposed Suh in EPW last week, urges Landrieu to oppose in the Energy Committee this week
February 11, 2014
Today, U.S. Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), top Republican on the Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, responded to a letter from the Louisiana Congressional delegation sent to him and Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) regarding Ms. Rhea Suh, President Obama's nominee to be the Assistant Secretary for Fish, Wildlife, and Parks at the Department of the Interior.
"As a senior level employee at the Department of the Interior, Ms. Suh has been involved in some of the biggest attacks in history on Louisiana's economy. Suh is a top official at the Department that shut down energy development with the offshore drilling moratorium and tirelessly works to shut down hydraulic fracturing," Vitter said. "I encourage my colleagues on the Energy Committee to oppose her--to serve Louisiana and their states, not the Obama White House."
U.S. Reps. Bill Cassidy, Charles Boustany, Steve Scalise, John Fleming, and Vance McAllister of Louisiana sent a letter to Vitter and Landrieu today expressing their concern of Suh and requesting that the Louisiana Senators oppose her nomination in their respective committees and on the Senate floor. Click here to read the letter.
During the EPW committee markup last week, Vitter spoke in opposition to the nomination of Suh and voted against her. Suh passed out of the EPW Committee on a party-line vote. Her nomination could be considered before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee this week.
Below is an excerpt of Sen. Vitter's remarks from February 6, 2014 EPW Committee business meeting:
Over the past four years, Ms. Suh has served in a key role at Interior implementing, in her words, "every single one of the major policy priorities from Secretary Salazar to now Secretary Jewell." During her time at Interior, the Department placed a moratorium on oil and gas development in the Gulf of Mexico - which was absolutely devastating to Louisiana's local economy. The Department has pushed forward policies related to hydraulic fracturing that have the potential to make it more difficult to develop our nation's abundant natural resources on public lands and federal waters. Fracking is also a big part of Louisiana's economy.
During her time at Interior, the Department entered into closed-door settlement agreements with radical environmental groups that could force more than 250 animals onto the endangered species list and lock up millions of acres of public and private lands.
She served in a top position at Interior when the Office of Surface Mining pressured contractors to rewrite an estimate that showed its stream buffer zone rule would have significant job losses. And, she's served in a senior role when the Department pushed out a rule that allows windmills to obtain 30-year permits to kill bald eagles.
During her confirmation hearing, I was hopeful that Ms. Suh would be able to explain how she would help move the Department in a different direction if she is promoted to a new role. Unfortunately, the hearing did not alleviate my concerns.
When given the opportunity to retract a statement that natural gas development was a "threat," Ms. Suh failed to do so. When asked whether it was a priority to increase natural gas development on our public lands if she was confirmed, she refused to endorse a pro-production policy. When asked about her role in the policies that I discussed a moment ago, she failed to explain how she served in a key role in implementing "every single one of the major policy priorities" and yet did not object to any of the policies that have been so harmful to my constituents in Louisiana.
In questions for the record, she provided evasive answers about federal contracts that are directly under her purview. In those same questions, she would not guarantee that grants distributed to radical environmental groups at the foundations where she previously worked were not used by those groups to sue the agencies that she hopes to oversee.
Her efforts in helping Interior implement an anti-development agenda concern me about what will happen to the energy industry and private property holders in my state and across the nation if we don't change course, and so I cannot support her nomination.