Matt Dempsey (202) 224-9797

David Lungren (202) 224-5642

Opening Statement of Senator James M. Inhofe, Ranking Member

Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works

Nominations Hearing for the EPA, ARC, NBRC, and TVA

Tuesday, February 9, 2010, 2:30 p.m.

Thank you Madame Chairman for making last-minute adjustments to today's hearing.  I think it makes sense, given the weather situation, to hold a hearing for all of these nominees this afternoon.  I want to extend a welcome to the nominees and their families here today.  I will be supporting all of the nominees, and I look forward to working with them.

Let me first address the nominee for Inspector General of the Environmental Protection Agency, Arthur Elkins, Jr.  Mr. Elkins - you have your work cut out for you.  Among other things, there needs to be an unbiased investigation into how EPA made its endangerment finding for greenhouse gases.  This finding will lead to policies that destroy jobs and raise energy prices for consumers.

I also want to note the numerous inquiries and document requests from the Minority of this committee to EPA.  Those inquiries and requests have either gone unanswered or were addressed in a grossly incomplete fashion. Mr. Elkins, I hope you will work with me to assure taxpayers that EPA is following the law and that it conducts business with openness and transparency.

Today, we also have a nominee for the Northern Border Regional Commission (NBRC), Sandford Blitz.  I look forward to hearing how Mr. Blitz plans to manage this new program and how to make it work effectively for those it is designed to help.  And we have Earl Gohl as the nominee for the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC).  

For both Mr. Gohl and Mr. Blitz, the rules and regulations this Administration has imposed and wants to impose have at least one thing in common: they disproportionately impact rural America. So I say to you today: stand up for rural America and be sure that its voice gets heard.  

Now, let me turn to our Tennessee Valley Authority nominees.  A critically important issue is how TVA is responding to the Kingston coal ash spill that occurred in December of 2008 in Roane County, Tennessee.  TVA=s CEO, Mr. Tom Kilgore made a commitment to the community to clean up the site as quickly and safely as possible.  I believe TVA is living up to its commitment.  I would like to hear the nominees' thoughts on TVA=s progress, what TVA can do better, and how your role on the Board will ensure that TVA continues to make good on its promise.

As TVA continues cleanup, the EPA and the Obama Administration are supposedly close to finalizing a proposed rule to regulate coal combustion waste.  The proposal, from what we have gathered, attempts to regulate coal combustion waste as a hazardous waste under Title C of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.

Let's not forget that Kingston was an engineering failure.  That is where our focus should be-we need to ensure that the coal ash impoundments are structurally sound.  Taking the hazardous waste course that EPA is considering will not ensure the structural safety of the impoundments.  Moreover, it will prevent the beneficial use of coal combustion waste.  This will impair our ability to build and improve roads and infrastructure, which is so badly needed in today's economy. 

Madame Chairman, I look forward to hearing from the witnesses.