Matt Dempsey (202) 224-9797

Katie Brown (202) 224-2160                        

Opening Statement of Senator James M. Inhofe

Ranking Member, Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works

Full Committee hearing entitled, "Nomination of Ken Kopocis to be Assistant Administrator for the Office of Water for the Environmental Protection Agency and Rebecca Wodder to be Assistant Secretary for Fish, Wildlife and Parks for the Department of the Interior."

Tuesday, July 19, 2011  2:30 pm

We are here today to consider two nominations: Ken Kopocis to be Associate Administrator of the Office of Water as well as Rebecca Wodder to be Assistant Secretary for Fish Wildlife and Parks - two key positions that will have a significant impact on regulatory policy.

First and foremost in my mind is certainly the upcoming announcement by the EPA to tighten the ozone standard, which would ruin Oklahoma's and the broader American economy.  The decision will be announced next week and I will be tracking it very closely.

Turning our attention back to the nominees, I am pleased to see Mr. Kopocis, a former EPW Committee staffer. We have worked together collegially on a number of important bills, and I know that he is someone with whom I can work.

However, the Obama-EPA's water policies represent an aggressive, heavy handed, top down approach to regulation. Today, EPA is proposing to change completely the rights and responsibilities of individuals under the Clean Water Act through their new draft guidance. Just as the Obama-EPA is attempting to implement a backdoor cap-and-trade through regulation, they are using this water guidance document to implement the Clean Water Restoration Act. Remember, this bill was resoundingly rejected last Congress when Democrats held an overwhelming majority.  It is completely inappropriate to attempt to change people's rights and responsibilities under a law through a guidance document.  I strongly oppose EPA's actions here and sincerely hope that they listen to the 40 other members who joined me in requesting they abandon any additional actions on this document.

I do have serious concerns about Ms. Wodder's nomination, which is a continuation of the Obama Administration's desire to appoint left-wing extremists to senior-level positions. She is the latest in the line of Obama officials that include Carol Browner, Van Jones, and Commerce nominee John Bryson. As CEO of American Rivers, which works actively to shut down energy production in the United States, she was a staunch supporter of the Clean Water Restoration Act.  She also aggressively promoted the federal regulation of hydraulic fracturing - a practice that is efficiently and effectively regulated by states and is crucial to our economic recovery and energy security.

The selection of Ms. Wodder is a clear departure from her predecessor, Tom Strickland, who in testimony before the EPW Committee said that we should actively and aggressively develop our energy resources.  Unfortunately, Ms. Wodder's support for regulatory advancement suggests that she would do the opposite, which exposes the reality of President Obama's agenda of increasing energy prices and destroying jobs.

Today, I need your assurance that you will bring a balanced approach to the position for which you are nominated.  In addition, I expect you to abide by the terms of an agreement that I worked out with Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) Director Dan Ashe to enable his nomination to move forward. Mr. Ashe clarified that climate change is not the overarching consideration driving the Service's day-to-day operations. He went on to state that FWS is not responsible for the regulation of greenhouse gases, nor is it the Service's role to address these causative factors through any of its statutory or regulatory authorities. Lastly, he agreed to attend multiple stakeholder meetings in Oklahoma to discuss the impact of listing the Lesser Prairie Chicken under the Endangered Species Act. Oklahomans are rightfully concerned about this likely action as it will shut down hundreds of millions of dollars of wind development and harm private property values.

I look forward to hearing from both nominees and having the opportunity to discuss many of the concerns I have expressed about the direction of the Obama-EPA as it relates to ensuring we are taking the right approach to balancing economic and environmental needs.