WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee held a hearing on the nominations of Brenda Mallory to serve as Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) and Janet McCabe to be Deputy Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Below is the opening statement of Ranking Member Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), as prepared for delivery:
“Thank you, Chairman Carper. And thank you all for being here. And thank you to Senator Blumenthal and Representative Carson. I appreciate you taking the time to introduce our candidates today.
“Last week, we had a productive, positive hearing about how the committee can develop and advance a bipartisan, commonsense surface transportation reauthorization bill.
“We heard about the importance of state flexibility and streamlining to get projects built faster, more efficiently, and to drive our economic growth.
“I look forward to building on that momentum of the committee and developing a bipartisan bill through the committee, in regular order.
“Today, we will have the opportunity to speak with two nominees to environmental policy positions in President Biden’s Administration who will have a great say over the path the administration takes in that regard:
“I will be questioning potential regulatory overreaches by the administration beyond the authorities granted by Congress and this committee. I know that the two candidates—both Janet McCabe, who is the nominee to serve as Deputy Administrator at EPA and Brenda Mallory, who I have just met for the first time, the nominee to serve as Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality—will have very definitive answers.
“These two nominees certainly have a wealth of experience, and I appreciate their willingness to serve—to go through this process as well. But—and we’ve talked on the phone and I appreciate the Zooms—it would be no surprise that some of their past policy positions are causing me some concern.
“This Congress, the first nominee this Committee considered was Secretary Michael Regan, who is presently the head of the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality.
“He has been nominated Secretary Regan to serve as the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, and he came out of this committee.
“As I said at our business meeting last month, Secretary Regan is the type of person I would like to see leading a federal agency.
“He expressed a desire to work in a bipartisan manner and has a history of doing so.
“This is where our path diverged. Unfortunately, the agenda had already been set by unconfirmed officials in the Biden Administration before Mr. Regan even had his hearing.
“That agenda is clearly shaping up to be a repeat of the Obama Administration’s regulatory agenda that devastated my state of West Virginia.
“Both of our nominees today served in politically-appointed leadership roles in that Administration and supported that agenda.
“In my view, that agenda means putting Americans out of work through executive actions like canceling the Keystone XL pipeline, and rolling back commonsense regulations that protect our environment while keeping our economy moving.
“It means promising the world that America will double down on reducing emissions while countries like China and India get a free pass.
“The part that bothers me the most on these actions is the nonchalant attitude that I felt—and many of the people that I represent felt during those years directed at them.
“According to a Politico reporter on Twitter, Gina McCarthy said at a recent event that ‘after she saves the world from climate change, she'll enjoy ‘the most expensive glass of champagne I can find.’
“She also said at an event in February that, ‘We have to get the middle of the country understanding and active on climate. We have to show them what resilience looks like.’
“I think that people in West Virginia and in the ‘middle of the country’ know ‘what resilience looks like.’ We are experts in developing our energy resources and managing our land.
“What we don’t need is an unelected and unaccountable bureaucrat telling us that they know what’s best for us, or looking forward to celebrating – with a toast of champagne – policies that have caused pain and despair. Hopefully we can do better in the future.
“In that past administration, Ms. McCabe reported to Ms. McCarthy.
“Ms. McCabe has said the Clean Power Plan is her proudest accomplishment—and we talked about this on our Zoom call.
“Let’s just say, I have very strong feelings about that plan – as everyone on this committee knows.
“I led a Congressional Review Act resolution to throw it out that passed Congress – only to be vetoed by President Obama.
“If the Clean Power Plan had been implemented, it would have imposed sweeping energy-shifting from coal and natural gas to wind and solar, preventing our gradual economic recovery from the Great Recession – a recovery that still hasn’t been felt in parts of my state thanks to some of these regulations.
“The Clean Power Plan was designed not to protect the environment, but to hurt fossil energy.
“My state being a large fossil energy producer was right in the middle of it and fought the rule in court with a host of other states.
“It never did go into effect.
“Ms. Mallory served as the General Counsel of the Council on Environmental Quality under President Obama.
“During that time, the Obama Administration made no effort to modernize the decades-old regulations under the National Environmental Policy Act. We talked about this in our hearing with the governors—how the permitting with transportation and infrastructure projects goes on for so long, that a lot of it—under the NEPA regulations—costs a lot of money and people abandon projects after a while.
“So, President Trump’s CEQ did the right thing and updated those regulations to speed project delivery.
“Ms. Mallory has not minced words about her views on these regulations.
“When asked about the Trump Administration’s rule, she said, ‘You almost don’t have a choice but to remove the whole thing.’
“Her statements are not surprising because she is presently working at the Southern Environmental Law Center.
“That Center has challenged many critical Trump reforms I support – from the Navigable Waters Protection Rule to NEPA reform to Clean Water Section 401 reforms, and other things needed to push pipeline development forward.
“I look forward to talking with both of you—as I know everyone on this committee will—and hearing about the vision you would have in mind.
“I will say, I do thank you for being willing to serve. I know it’s not easy. And, certainly the EPA and environmental regulations are always very, very difficult and cut both ways.
“I’ve shared with both of you my deep compassion for not just my state, but the economic devastation that regulations when they’re not looked at in the whole can cause to certain areas of the country and plunge people into poverty and into unsafe and unhealthy conditions. I know you’re concerned about that as well, so let’s try to find solutions together. I look forward to our nominees’ testimony today.
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