Click here to watch Ms. Vehr’s testimony.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW), welcomed Nancy Vehr, air quality division administrator for the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality, to the committee. Vehr was testifying before the committee at a Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety hearing on “Cooperative Federalism Under the Clean Air Act: State Perspectives.”
At the hearing, senators received testimony from various environmental state agencies on the Clean Air Act and how EPA collaboration with states can help successfully implement environmental objectives.
Barrasso introduced Vehr to the committee. “I am pleased to introduce Nancy Vehr, who serves as the air quality administrator for the Wyoming Department of Air Quality,” said Barrasso.
“Administrator Vehr has led Wyoming’s efforts to improve air quality and implement the Clean Air Act since 2015.
“Before serving as Air Quality Administrator, she worked at the Wyoming Attorney General’s office. In that office, she served as the assistant attorney general and represented the state’s Division on Air Quality.
“Administrator Vehr also has experience in the private sector, where she handled a wide variety of civil and environmental matters.
“Her wealth of experience with the Clean Air Act and deep familiarity of Wyoming has served the state well, for which we are very grateful. Due to our unique location, geography and natural resources, Wyoming needs flexibility to implement the Clean Air Act.
“I look forward to your testimony today, as you explain the challenges faced by the state of Wyoming in implementing the Clean Air Act and how the EPA can better partner with states, and specifically the state of Wyoming, to solve these challenges,” said Barrasso.
Ms. Vehr testifies before the Senate EPW Committee.
In her written testimony, Vehr discussed how coordinated federalism can help achieve positive environmental outcomes. “When cooperative federalism works, EPA communicates early and often with their state counterparts, and timely acts. And, states do the same – tailoring plans to meet objectives given the unique characteristics and challenges facing the state and its air quality,” said Vehr.
Vehr specifically discussed how cooperative federalism can help achieve air quality standards. “One of the cornerstone measures established by Congress that epitomizes the need for functional cooperative federalism is the State Plan process to improve air quality,” Vehr said. “State Plan development is a ‘state-driven air quality planning process.’ Under Wyoming’s State Plan process, measures are adopted at the state level and then submitted to the EPA region for approval. Under state law, public comment and input is a key part of the process. What this means, is that Wyoming’s citizens and industry have a voice and participate in the process at the State level.”
Vehr described how a “one-size-fits-all” approach does not enable states to achieve their individual environmental goals. “The [Air Quality] Division’s experience is that ‘uncooperative’ federalism delays implementation of state measures designed to improve air quality. ‘Uncooperative’ federalism brings about conflicts, distrust, duplication, delays, unnecessary expenditures, and diversion of resources with little to no air quality benefit.”
Vehr also explained how previous federal plans hinder innovation at the state level and increase costs. “However, over the past five to ten years, the process failed – some referred to it as ‘uncooperative federalism’ – instead of approving innovative state plans to improve air quality, EPA often times failed to act or imposed a one-size-fits-all Federal Plan on a state. Wyoming is one of those states in which EPA imposed a Regional Haze Federal Plan that came with a much higher price tag and no added visibility benefit as compared to the State’s Plan.”
For more information on Vehr’s testimony, click here.