Matt Dempsey (202) 224-9797



Opening Statement of Senator James Inhofe

Senate Environment and Public Works Full Committee

Nominations of Peter Silva, Stephen Owens, and Jo-Ellen Darcy

Tuesday, May 12, 2009



Madam Chairman, I am delighted to welcome our nominees today. 


I have met with Peter Silva and Stephen Owens, and I know Jo-Ellen Darcy, so I have been able to determine to some degree their perspectives on issues.  I do, however, have a few questions I would like to ask today.


Water issues are vitally important to my state of Oklahoma.  It is encouraging that Mr. Silva comes from the west.  It means he has seen firsthand the challenges that face those of us who live in areas where the cost and availability of water are significant factors.  I trust Mr. Silva will handle water issues at the Environmental Protection Agency with a great deal of sensitivity to the needs of states like mine that face significant water problems.  I want to discuss with him how we can do a better job of helping small communities that can’t afford to meet Washington’s unfunded water treatment mandates.


As for Mr. Owens, his responsibilities will include overseeing the handling of chemicals that are essential to our safety, quality of life and economic well-being.  There are issues involving the registration and use of chemicals that we need to address so that we can protect the public while maintaining the nation’s economic vitality.  I want to explore how we will find the right balance.


Those of us who have been Members of EPW for awhile have seen Jo-Ellen Darcy sitting at that witness table many times as a staffer answering questions about various pieces of legislation.  Today she sits there as President Obama’s nominee to be the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works.  I’m not convinced that she’s not simply jumping from the frying pan into the fire, but I offer my sincere congratulations nonetheless.  Jo-Ellen appeared before the Armed Services Committee two weeks ago, but I’d like to reiterate in this hearing room how pleased I was to hear of her nomination.  Her intelligence, honesty and ability to work with people advocating a wide range of policy positions made her instrumental to the development of the past several Water Resources Development Acts, including WRDA 2007.  I believe these traits will also serve her well as the next ASA, and I look forward to working with her in that capacity.


I want to ask each nominee one question right at the top, and that is whether each of you will agree to answer the questions and correspondence from the minority members of this committee as quickly as possible, and with the same diligence as you would with communications from the majority members?


Thank you, Madam Chairman. 


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