WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee held a hearing to consider the nomination of Joseph Goffman to be assistant administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Air and Radiation.
Ranking Member Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) has previously voiced her strong opposition to Goffman’s nomination, including at a May 2022 hearing, a July 2022 business meeting, and in a July 2022 op-ed.
Below is the opening statement of Ranking Member Capito as delivered.
“Thank you, Mr. Chairman, thank you.
“I value our partnership as we consider the nominees. And although we're not always voting the same way, it's certainly, I take this seriously, the processing of the nominations.
“I want to thank Mr. Goffman for coming before us again today. Welcome back. And thank you for being here.
“We have some new members on our committee as you see who haven't had a chance to face to face with you, Mr. Goffman. And so I think it's important in light of the discussion today.
“So you've been at the administration within the Office of Air and Radiation, and according to the chairman, you've done a lot of work throughout your course of your career.
“But your last hearing was in May 20. And as the Chairman mentioned, a lot has changed. Really three major events that apply directly to the air office’s responsibilities and authority since we last saw you.
“The first being the Supreme Court landmark decision in West Virginia versus the EPA. A case successfully led by my home state. There, the Supreme Court held that the Clean Power Plan was an illegal overreach of EPA’s authority
“When Congress wishes to vest agencies with broad authorities, like the authority to fundamentally change our nation's energy sector, Congress speaks clearly.
“Congress does not address major policy questions through silence or ambiguous grants of authority. There are no elephants hiding in mouse holes.
“So given the significance of what the Supreme Court established there, I must say I was a bit surprised when you told The New York Times in an interview not long after that decision, quote, that ‘this case does not really take anything off the menu that we've been focused on.’
“So that concerns me and I'm sure it's no surprise to you that it did, especially that you've given personal call for capacious readings of the Clean Air Act authority before the Supreme Court's ruling and prior defeats in our nation's highest courts.
“If nothing has changed, does that mean that you intend to continue to interpret the Clean Air Act in these overreaching ways? And so that'll be substantive part of my questioning.
“Second, another significant event since your last hearing was the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act. As predicted, that bill has failed in achieving its titular purpose as inflation remains stubbornly high.
“But then, in my view, it was never really about inflation but about funding partisan priorities. What proponents have said accurately is that it is designed to have a significant impact on our baseload power resources in this country, especially our coal resources.
“In a recent presentation, the staff from the EPA Office of Air and Radiation discuss some of the initial findings that EPA has made about the effects of the IRA, or Inflation Reduction Act, on coal power plants moving forward.
“The EPA staff confirmed that the legislation will drive down the deployment and use of coal and power plants at a significant rate.
“So the charts behind me, these are charts from the EPA presentation, shows exactly that. The blue line in the graph shows anticipated use of coal power without carbon capture, CCUS, between ‘20 and ‘40…the red line with the IRA is noticeably lower.
“The second show shows that in other words, how much will be in service. Because of the IRA, not only were more coal plants retire, but the usage of those still in service will be much lower.
“You have the charts I know because our staffs have talked about this. To translate what these charts mean in real-world terms your agency's predicting the IRA itself will drive significant decreases in coal usage.
“For West Virginia, what that means is further hits to communities devastated by policies that were previously put in place. You and I have talked about this, this leads to job loss, poor health, drug addiction, hopelessness.
“But the graphs we're looking at only consider the Inflation Reduction Act. That's not the end of the line of the administration. As we know from our presentation in February of 2022, you've been a critical advisor in the development of the administration's so called EGU strategy, a plan to dump a number of new regulations across the air, water, and waste categories to disproportionately affect our coal power.
“And the effects of these regulations like the replacement to the Clean Power Plan, the new effluent limitation guidelines under the Clean Water Act, and the so called Good Neighbor rule will further hit coal plants in our industrial heartland.
“So the Inflation Reduction Act is bad news for coal communities in West Virginia, and I think devastates.
“I have mentioned West Virginia versus the EPA. I mentioned the Inflation Reduction Act. The third item of concern are the warnings being sounded by the grid operators.
“We have a reliability problem in this country already. And it's going to be gravely exacerbated by policies that drive away critical baseload energy resources like coal and natural gas.
“These regulatory policies will likely render unachievable the administration's goal to electrify certain industries that currently do not depend on the grid such as automobiles or gas ranges as grid operators struggle to fill current, nevermind future, demand.
“So earlier this week, the Wall Street [Journal] editorial board wrote about the types of policies that are driving power plant retirement, and how those plants are shutting down without adequate replacement power.
“They cite a report released last week, excuse me, by PJM, which serves more than 65 million people across 13 states including the District of Columbia where we are and also the state of West Virginia where I live.
“PJM is ringing the alarm about the effects that retirement will have and how most power plant retirements are policy driven.
“This is a quote from their report, ‘policies like an EGU strategy could lead to energy shortages and blackouts,’ as the Journal observed, quote, ‘he steep costs of complying with EPA agency regulations, including a proposed Good Neighbor rule that is expected to be finalized next month, will force the shuttering of 10,500 megawatts of fossil fuel generation.’
“So I'm going to request unanimous consent that the editorial, the PJM report referenced here, and the EPA presentation, which I have here, I have the presentation here, be put into the record.
“That will be the substance of my questions. Thank you.”
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