WASHINGTON, DC – Today, U.S. Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.), top Democrat on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, spoke on the Senate floor before the Senate approved, by voice vote, Susan Bodine’s nomination to serve as the assistant administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance (OECA). Senator Carper’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, are below:
“Mr. President, I rise today to speak about the confirmation of Susan Bodine to lead the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance (OECA).
“For those who may not know, that is a big job and an incredibly important one. The EPA’s enforcement office protects the health of our citizens and our environment by ensuring that everyone is playing by the same rules. When bad actors don’t follow the rules that we have put in place to maintain a clean and healthy environment for all Americans, it is EPA’s enforcement office that holds them accountable. In the past, the actions taken by this office at EPA have led to reductions in toxic air pollution, as well as the clean up of contaminated land and waterways. In fact, last year alone, EPA’s enforcement work required companies to invest $13.7 billion dollars in similar clean up efforts.
“I have said from the time she was nominated that Susan Bodine’s resume would be very helpful if she were confirmed to serve as the head of EPA’s enforcement office. Ms. Bodine has served as a staffer in the House and the Senate for over a decade and also spent time working in the Bush Administration. Given this experience, I believe she has a good understanding of the relationship that should exist between the separate, but equal branches of our government and the critical role that EPA’s enforcement office plays.
“When she was nominated for this position, Ms. Bodine was kind enough to come to my office to discuss the job and her qualifications, which I appreciated. She talked about the work that she had done for Senators Inhofe and Barrasso – both of whom have taken their oversight roles on the EPW committee very seriously. From the day we met in my office, I made explicitly clear to Ms. Bodine that, while I think she is qualified for this job, I also take my oversight role seriously.
“From the day of that meeting with Ms. Bodine until now, my request has been consistent, yet simple: EPA should provide complete, adequate and timely responses to the committee that oversees its work.
“Absent a serious commitment to do so, I have consistently said that I would be unable to support moving forward on any EPA nominees.
“I have also said from the very beginning that I do not make such statements lightly or with any sense of joy. But I believe firmly that this body and its members have a constitutional duty to perform rigorous oversight and that we must protect that responsibility, regardless of which party happens to be in power. And over 200 days is far too long to wait for a response to serious inquiries, like those about a toxic pesticide that this EPA has deemed safe after the previous administration proposed banning it. I know that, no matter who’s in charge, we can do better than that.
“Now, as my Democratic colleagues and I know all too well, we are not the majority party. We don’t control the Senate or its activities, who’s confirmed here or even who’s debated on the floor. For instance, despite my many objections and those of my colleagues, Bill Wehrum was confirmed to serve as the head of EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation. So my repeated requests have been just that: an ask, with the hope that all of us, as members of this body, could agree that certain responsibilities are more important than political wins. Some of my Republican colleagues have supported me in this, and I thank them for that support.
“As of late, I see that EPA is making a good faith effort to respond to our requests. I am now satisfied with many of the responses they have sent so far, I am pleased that we are seeing progress, and I am hopeful that this progress will continue.
“I have served in this body for 17 years now. My colleagues know me, and I think that they know that I try to be fair. I have voted for President Trump’s nominees and for the nominees of past Republican presidents. I do not have – and have never had – an interest in delay for delay’s sake.
“In fact, I said just last week that if a sub-set of the letters that were due back from EPA were completed in short order and were truly responsive, we would make progress on nominations. The agency has done its part and now we are here, with Ms. Bodine set to be confirmed by this body today.
“I hope that this is the beginning of a new chapter and that EPA’s responses to our oversight requests will be more timely going forward. Having said that, a sincere congratulations to Ms. Bodine and her family. I look forward to continue working with her in her new role to ensure EPA’s enforcement office remains an indispensable and credible ‘cop on the beat.’”