Click here to watch Chairman Barrasso’s remarks.  

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW), delivered the following remarks at a committee hearing for the confirmation of nominees to serve at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).

The hearing featured testimony from:

  • Michael Dourson, nominee to serve as the assistant administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention at the EPA;
  • Matthew Leopold, nominee to be assistant administrator for the Office of General Counsel at the EPA;
  • David Ross, nominee to be assistant administrator for the Office of Water at the EPA;
  • William Wehrum, nominee to be assistant administrator for the Office of Air and Regulation at the EPA; and
  • Jeffery Baran, nominee to be member of the NRC.

For more information on their testimonies click here.

Senator Barrasso’s remarks:

“Today, we will consider the nomination of four individuals to serve as assistant administrators of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and one individual to serve as a member of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, or NRC.

“First, I will address the four nominees before us today to be assistant administrators of the EPA.

“Each one is a well-qualified individual and will bring a wealth of experience and expertise to a critically important role in protecting America’s public health and safety.

“I applaud the president’s nomination of such accomplished Americans and dedicated public servants.

“President Trump nominated Michael Dourson to lead EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention.

“The Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention protects the American people and the environment from potential risks posed by pesticides and toxic chemicals.

“Dr. James Klaunig, who has served on numerous EPA scientific advisory panels stated of Dr. Dourson that ‘Dr. Dourson is a leader in the field of risk assessment…He has been instrumental in bringing scientists of different disciplines and representing different constituents together to address current and future approaches to the risk of humans to exogenous chemicals.’

“President Trump nominated Matthew Leopold to lead EPA’s Office of the General Counsel.

“The Office of General Counsel serves as the EPA’s chief legal advisor.

“John Cruden, the former Obama Justice Department Assistant Attorney General, said this of Mr. Leopold ‘He is committed to the rule of law and can be counted on to give sound and candid advice to EPA decision makers.’

“President Trump nominated David Ross to lead EPA’s Office of Water.

"The ffice of Water ensures drinking water is safe.

“The office also restores and maintains oceans, watersheds, and their aquatic ecosystems to protect human health, to support economic and recreational activities, and to provide healthy habitat for fish, wildlife, and plants.

“Todd Parfitt, the director of Wyoming’s Department of Environmental Quality said of Mr. Ross that ‘Mr. Ross possesses the necessary tools to effectively and appropriately oversee EPA’s Water program in a fair, balanced and practical way.’

‘When we get to witness introductions, I will be introducing Mr. Ross and will say more about his accomplishments and time in Wyoming.

“President Trump also nominated William Wehrum to lead EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation.

“The Office of Air and Radiation develops national programs, policies, and regulations for controlling air pollution and radiation exposure.

“Former environmental Obama Justice official John Cruden, said this of Mr. Wehrum that ‘I believe he is committed to achieving clean air for all citizens and carefully following sound and current science.’

“We must act quickly to confirm all these EPA nominee, so the agency will be even better prepared to protect human health and the environment, enforce our environmental laws, and respond effectively when disaster strikes. 

“It is deeply unfortunate that blind opposition to all of this administration’s EPA nominees, including the well-respected Susan Bodine to be EPA’s enforcement chief, has stalled the confirmation process.

“Susan was reported in July and has been held up by the minority ever since.

“I want to be clear, the EPA's Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance, the office whose vital mission is to hold polluters accountable, is without its confirmed leader.

“It is without its confirmed leader because the minority feels compelled to block all nominees to the EPA regardless of the pollution and environmental needs of our communities, including those communities struggling to recover from the hurricanes that have ravaged our shores.

“A primary complaint the minority they cite in blocking all nominees to the EPA is that the EPA is not being responsive to the minority’s oversight requests.

“The EPA has already sent the Minority over 2,800 pages in response to its seemingly never-ending requests. I have these responses here.

“Claiming EPA is not responsive as an excuse for not confirming important nominees doesn’t pass the smell test.

“I regret that I cannot strike the same positive note for the nomination of Jeffery Baran to serve for another term as a member of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission as I have for these EPA nominees.

“Mr. Baran is currently on the NRC and, though his term does not expire until June 30, 2018, he has been nominated at the request of Senate Democrats.

“Senate Democrats have refused to advance the nominations of Annie Caputo and David Wright to the NRC until Commissioner Baran is confirmed to a new five-year term. 

“Let me be clear, Mr. Baran’s nomination is a big ask.

“Mr. Baran has been nominated for a term that is effectively three years longer than the term for which Mr. Wright has been nominated, and two years longer than the term for which Mrs. Caputo has been nominated.

“If Mr. Baran is confirmed, his term would outlast those of all Republican nominees to the NRC, including Chairman Svinicki.

“In December 2014, the last time the Senate confirmed Mr. Baran, only one Republican voted in favor of his confirmation.

“I, along with many Republicans on this committee, have voted against his nomination on six separate occasions.

“Since then, Commissioner Baran has given me little reason to reconsider my vote.

“I hope this hearing gives us an opportunity to hear from Commissioner Baran and get more clarity regarding his record at the NRC.”