Click here to watch Ranking Member Capito’s opening remarks from the committee hearing.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee held a hearing on the nomination of Joe Goffman to be Assistant Administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Below is the opening statement of Ranking Member Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), as prepared for delivery.
“Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thank you for the very meaningful moment of silence. I know that many of us are just deeply heartbroken by the news that we heard out of Texas.
“Thank you for holding today’s confirmation hearing. We appreciate having the hearing on the nominee to serve as Assistant Administrator for EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation, Mr. Joe Goffman. Thank you for the visit to my office last week.
“President Biden, apparently, has chosen to wait longer than any other incoming president to nominate an assistant administrator for this important office— a full 412 days, which ‘bests’ the record set by President Clinton to nominate Mary Nichols by a full five months.
“That delay puzzled me at first.
“After all, the president has made climate change such a pillar of his campaign and his first few days in office when he took unilateral executive actions to kill the Keystone XL pipeline to transport Canadian oil into the U.S., announced plans for new greenhouse regulations on sectors across the economy, including the power and oil and gas sectors, imposed freezes and uncertainty on federal oil and gas leasing, and promised a ‘whole of government’ approach to address a ‘climate crisis.’
“I’d note that, exacerbated by the war in Ukraine and pandemic supply chain issues, the American consumer is now burdened by the fruits of those early policy choices in the form of higher prices for goods, energy, food, and especially gasoline.
“The president also made big promises about being transparent with the American people.
“Logically, if climate change and transparency were such high priorities, one of the first positions I would think he would have announced would be the lead official for EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation, the lead federal office in charge of regulating air emissions in this country.
“But, it turns out, in some cases, transparency and accountability are not the first priority.
“By holding back this nomination for over a year, he has shielded the Office of Air and Radiation, and by extension all of the administration’s current and forthcoming climate regulations, from any real scrutiny.
“Because of this delay, until today, the American people’s elected officials in Congress—and that is us—have had no opportunity to provide counsel on a nominee nor conduct direct oversight over the office that Mr. Goffman essentially has led, essentially, in his acting capacity.
“It’s a bit dismissive of our constitutional advice and consent role here in the Senate that President Biden chose to fill the role with someone who has actually been in the role, and is now being nominated to run, since day one.
“This all comes across as clearly a stall tactic designed to shield the office and Mr. Goffman from being answerable to Congress and the American people, but we’re glad he’s here today to start fulfilling that obligation.
“Unfortunately, hiding policies from congressional oversight is a pattern when it comes to President Biden, and his White House and its climate czar.
“He has tasked czars in the White House with developing climate plans and executing them, hidden from the accountability to the public. And I talked about this, interestingly enough, at our very first hearing.
“Even as a sitting senator and ranking member of the committee of jurisdiction, when I have written to White House officials to ask for more information on climate policies or the social cost of greenhouse gases, I get nothing in response.
“I don’t even get an acknowledgement of receipt of my inquiry.
“So, as I said, Mr. Goffman, thank you for being here today finally before the committee. I look forward to getting some answers from you, because I know you have been and continue to be in regular communication with the White House.
“Apparently, you have been meeting with Gina McCarthy, discussing plans to regulate power plants since the early days of the administration, even before EPA Administrator Regan was in place.
“I would like to hear from you whether, and if so, how your 2035 climate targets are achievable without crushing the energy sector and the whole U.S. economy in jobs.
“This is especially important now that we need more energy domestically, even as President Biden has promised more American energy exports to our allies confronting Russia, all while his administration undercuts its actual production here at home.
“In addition to hearing what you have been up to for the last 15 months, I also want to talk about the work you did during the eight years you served in the Obama Administration and how it signals what is to come.
“In our meeting earlier this month, we spoke about the Clean Power Plan, an unrealistic, and I believe, illegal regulation, stopped from going into effect by the Supreme Court.
“That regulation was designed to override elected state governments and decimate livelihoods and entire communities.
“Its mere proposal sent a shock through the energy sector and combined with other regulations, it contributed, in my state, to hopelessness, poverty, drug overdoses, and despair. And I discussed that with you.
“Dr. John Deskins, the director of West Virginia University’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research, testified before a House Committee last year and put in explicit terms the devastation communities in my state have experienced.
“‘Coal production has fallen by approximately one-half from its 2008 high. This has led to a loss of around 15,000 coal jobs and a direct loss of $3.5 billion in economic output. These losses ignite a vicious cycle where we see out-migration of our younger men and women, an aging population, drug abuse, and so on, making it even more challenging to attract new business, thus continuing the cycle.’
“The regulations that you authored while at the Obama Administration, even as they may have provided negligible climate benefits, really ended up hurting, in my state, people and our communities.
“So, when you say using the Clean Air Act to shift generation from some types of electricity to other types of generation is just ‘common sense,’ we need to talk to the American people and West Virginians about that.
“Your job at EPA is not to rewrite the law, it is to implement it.
“At a time when this administration has shown a willingness to flout congressional intent and stretch executive power beyond any reasonable interpretation of Congress’s words in federal statutes, this is especially concerning to many of us.
“President Biden has already shown through your delayed nomination that he does not take advice and consent seriously, so now we are going to see if you will take Congress’s words seriously if confirmed to give us that transparency and accountability that we are due and desire.
“I look forward to hearing from you. It is long overdue.
“And, Chairman Carper, I yield back.”
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