– Today, the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee held a business meeting, followed by an oversight hearing on the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA). The following items were considered during the committee’s business meeting:

  • Christopher Frey to be Assistant Administrator for Research and Development of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
  • Martha Williams to be Director of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) of the Department of the Interior
  • 18 General Services Administration resolutions

Below is the business meeting opening statement of Ranking Member Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), as prepared for delivery.

 “Good afternoon, and thank you for calling this business meeting today. And welcome to the committee for our first meeting of the year.

 “It is an understatement to say that we accomplished a lot in our last year together, and I look forward to many more ways to work together in 2022.

 “Today we are gathered to consider a number of GSA resolutions and a nominee, Martha Williams, who I am pleased to support, to serve as Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

 “In my discussions with her, Ms. Williams agreed to preserve opportunities for hunting, fishing, and other outdoor pursuits important to so many in West Virginia and across the country.

 “She also has shown a willingness to work with Congress.

 “She provided detailed responses to my letter asking how the Fish and Wildlife Service would use its American Rescue Plan funds, and also provided substantive, thoughtful responses to the questions I submitted for the record following her hearing.

 “Equally important, her staff have been responsive to mine when my staff have policy questions or requests for additional information. 

 “Ms. Williams and I will not agree on everything, but she has shown she takes her responsibility to be accountable to Congress seriously, and I commend her for that.

 “Those same principles of transparency and accountability guide my decision to vote ‘no’ on the nominee from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency we are considering today, Dr. Chris Frey, as I did when we considered this same nomination last year. 

 “My basis for opposition remains unchanged. It’s not really how he testified or what direction I think he might go. It is really the fact that the EPA simply will not be transparent about its plans to pursue policies that could raise already surging energy prices, hurt workers in West Virginia and across the country, and make America less competitive.

 “Almost a year ago, when the committee considered EPA Administrator Michael Regan’s nomination, I feared Regan was walking into an administration where he would not be the one calling the shots, and where unaccountable climate czars, including Gina McCarthy, would set the agenda.

 “Unfortunately, that prediction has played out exactly how I thought.

 “Just last week, McCarthy bragged to The New York Times about how she has spent the last year ‘overseeing a whole-of-government effort to put our country on a path to tackle the climate crisis.’

 “President Biden has not even bothered to nominate someone to lead EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation, the EPA office in charge of climate issues.

 “No incoming administration has waited this long to send up a nominee for this critical position. The previous record was 260 days set by former President Clinton.

 “Instead, McCarthy is directing climate policies shielded from the public eye, and with no accountability to Congress or the American people.

 “Last April. Administrator Regan appeared before the committee and promised to provide me with the EPA analysis developed in support of the U.S. Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC).

 “In that new NDC under the Paris Agreement, President Biden pledged to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions 50 to 52% from 2005 levels by 2030.

 “Now, nine months later, Administrator Regan still has not provided me with the analysis.

 “Senator Inhofe also requested information shortly after the hearing. 

 “In August, EPA staff responded to him in a letter on behalf of the White House, admitting an analysis existed but claiming that Gina McCarthy and her office ultimately called the shots on the NDC.

 “So, in September, Senator Inhofe and I, along with House Energy and Commerce leaders Cathy McMorris Rodgers and David McKinley, asked the White House for information in a letter.

“No response.

“Now it is 2022 and we still have no information about how the NDC, which is supposed to guide all of the administration’s climate policies, was calculated.

“This stone walling by EPA and the White House is unacceptable.

“We know the analysis has been done, so why haven’t they shared it?

“There are only two possibilities. 

“Either it shows they cannot meet their goals at all.

“Or, it shows meeting the NDC would be politically and economically devastating through aggressive, top-down regulations across all aspects of Americans’ lives.

“While EPA and the White House have kept any information about development of the target in the shadows, outside groups have tried to crunch the numbers.

“In December, The New York Times reported that current policies would only get our country about halfway there, and analysis shows that even the now-stalled reckless tax and spending spree, known as the Build Back Better bill may not fully close the gap, despite its proponents’ promises.

“We know the bill would further raise prices, kill jobs in states across the country, and lead to more waste of taxpayer dollars without meeting pie-in-the-sky climate goals.

“Even so, hiding the analysis in the shadows is not fair.

“The American people deserve to know the supposed benefits, and especially the outsized costs of what the administration has committed to internationally, will mean for their lives, and how the administration plans to fundamentally alter our economy to achieve those goals.

“With that in mind, unless my outstanding oversight requests are fully responded to, I cannot support advancing this EPA nomination. Thank you.”


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