WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee held a hearing titled: “Hearing on the Nominations of Brenda Mallory to serve as chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality and Janet McCabe to be Deputy Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.” Below is the opening statement of Chairman Tom Carper (D-Del.), as prepared for delivery:
“Good morning, everyone. We are gathered here today to consider the nominations of Brenda Mallory to serve as Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, and Janet McCabe to serve as Deputy Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.
“And we’re also pleased to welcome Senator Richard Blumenthal and Representative Andre Carson, who will be introducing our nominees shortly. We thank you for joining us today.
“We all know that this is a critical time in our country’s history. The American people need compassionate, steady, and enlightened leadership.
“Fortunately, the two nominees before us today have the expertise, commitment, and integrity that we need to help lead our nation’s environmental efforts and meet this moment.
“Both nominations before us today are for particularly important roles—roles that can improve the quality of life for all Americans.
“One of my mentors, the former Governor of Delaware, Russell Peterson, actually served as chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality during Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford’s administrations. Governor Peterson used to refer to his role at CEQ as an orchestra conductor—you don’t play the instruments, but you work to try and ensure that everyone is playing in harmony. The CEQ chair coordinates action across the entire government to ensure federal agencies are working in harmony—that every federal decision advances the objectives of economic growth, better public health, and stronger environmental quality.
“Over the last four years, too often, CEQ took dangerous policy actions undermining that very mission. One example: the National Environmental Policy Act, or NEPA.
“As we know, NEPA calls on the federal government to consider the impacts on our environment and public health before taking major actions. This can inform the public about how transportation projects can impact air pollution and how federal development decisions can affect important historic sites. This law embodies our democratic ideals by offering the American people the opportunity to understand a proposed project and voice their views to decision-makers. The same principles of democracy and citizen participation enshrined in our Constitution are also enshrined in NEPA.
“Sadly, the Trump administration CEQ walked away from the tenets of this 50-year old law. So, one of the many tasks ahead of the next CEQ will be to get us back on track—to harmonize our efforts to address the climate crisis, safeguard public health, and ensure that we’re treating others the way we want to be treated.
“There are few persons as well qualified to tackle this challenge than Brenda Mallory. Ms. Mallory is a deeply committed civil servant with extensive experience under both Democratic and Republican administrations.
“She’s a kind, compassionate person who brings people together to find solutions. That’s exactly the kind of leader we need working to address the climate crisis and improve access to clean air and water for all Americans.
“We need that kind of leader at the EPA, too. Because we all know, there’s no shortage of leadership challenges facing the EPA. The agency has been damaged repeatedly over the last four years.
“Policymaking at EPA should be grounded in science. Leadership is needed there to restore scientific integrity to decision-making so the men and women working there every day can effectively address the climate crisis and other challenges facing our nation and our planet.
“So, we need strong leadership at the EPA, and we need it without delay.
“Last month, we came together and advanced Michael Regan’s nomination as EPA Administrator. I hope we will see his nomination come to the floor for a vote by the full Senate very soon.
“When confirmed, Mr. Regan will need a Deputy Administrator by his side. Steady, experienced leadership is essential. And Janet McCabe will provide exactly that.
“Many of us here first met Ms. McCabe when she was in a different role at EPA. For this position, she’ll have a different mandate, overseeing management of the agency’s day-to-day operations. She’s well-suited to meet that challenge: she has a deep understanding of the inner workings of the agency and its people, and a profound commitment to their shared mission.
“How’s this for a good fit: nine people who previously held the role for which she’s been nominated—five Democrats, four Republicans—all recommend her for the job. Think about that. They’ve all recommended her.
“I’m convinced that she’ll bring a profound dedication to public service as she works to rebuild morale, restore scientific integrity, and closely partner with states to protect the health of all our communities.
“Many of my colleagues know I often like to quote Albert Einstein who once said, ‘in adversity, lies opportunity.’ Well, we have no shortage of adversity today in our nation. Whether it’s this deadly pandemic, unemployment just beginning to show signs of improvement, or the growing climate crisis, there seems to be adversity everywhere you turn.
“But with that adversity, there’s also great opportunity.
“There’s an opportunity for us to unite in common purpose—to join together as fellow Americans—to do great things for our planet, our country, and our neighbors, whether those neighbors live on the other side of town or on the other side of the world.
“The American people are looking to us to rise to today’s challenges and turn those challenges into an opportunity for a better future. Let’s not let them down.”