Click here to watch Ranking Member Capito’s opening remarks.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, The U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee held a hearing entitled, “Hearing on the Fiscal Year 2022 Proposed Budget for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.”

Below is the opening statement of Ranking Member Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), as prepared for delivery:

“Chairman Carper, thank you for holding today’s hearing on the EPA’s budget proposal for the upcoming fiscal year.

“Administrator Regan, welcome back to the committee, and congratulations again on your confirmation.

“I greatly appreciated your commitment throughout the nomination process to regular and transparent communication with Congress.

“Your presence today is a testament to that commitment, so, thank you.

“I look forward to hearing more about the president’s budget proposal and your vision for the EPA.

“We all want a government that serves the American people and is receptive to their needs.

“While we work together to develop bipartisan legislation and policies through regular order, we increase our chances of achieving that goal.

“I want to thank Chairman Carper for following that approach to developing a drinking water and wastewater infrastructure bill that is on the floor this week. We are all excited about that in this committee.

“Administrator Regan, I thank you and your team for their technical assistance to our committee staff in developing the bill. It’s been absolutely critical.

“We look forward to pushing for its enactment into law and eventual implementation by EPA.

“I also want to thank the administration for pushing forward with the publication of the regulatory determination for PFOA and PFOS under the Safe Drinking Water Act following my letter that I wrote to Chief of Staff Ron Klain.

“Setting drinking water standards that follow the regulatory process is another example of an area where there is bipartisan agreement.

“I look forward to hearing more from you during this hearing about the status of the agency’s activities under the PFAS Action Plan that was released in 2019.

“An area where I have real concerns, however, is the direction the agency and the administration is taking with climate.

“I do not believe a bipartisan approach to climate regulation is being followed by the EPA so far.

“I hope you can change that.

“The Biden administration has rolled out a historic numbers of new climate actions by executive order.

“Last week, the administration unveiled a new U.S. Nationally Determined Contribution under the nonbinding Paris Agreement.

“The administration promises to meet that new target through new regulations.

“I fear that the Biden administration intends to double down on its regulation of the American energy sector, while letting China take our place as a global energy leadership.

“The budget proposal we are discussing today—unfortunately limited in its detail—calls for $14 billion more dollars to be spent on climate spending across almost every agency.

“EPA’s overall budget would go up over 20 percent.

“Part of that requested increase is to fund implementation of climate regulations under the Clean Air Act.

“I am concerned this request signals a desire to re-impose overreaching climate regulations.

“We want to get to the same place here in terms of clean air and less emissions.

“West Virginia saw the effects of aggressive climate regulations combined with difficult economic conditions during the Obama administration.

“I do not want to repeat that history as we come out of this pandemic.

“Regulations like the Clean Power Plan—with such tremendous implications on states like West Virginia—create true environmental justice concerns. You and I have talked about this.

“I know environmental justice is of great importance to you.

“It is to me as well.

“Without question, the climate regulations of the Obama administration contributed to ‘disproportionately high and adverse’ effects on the health of low-income populations of West Virginians.

“The economic decline since 2008 in some parts of West Virginia is shocking.

“As John Deskins from West Virginia University testified at a House hearing last month, the decline of the coal industry has cost West Virginia 15,000 jobs and $3.5 billion in direct economic output.

“Deskins observed that ‘The concentration of these job losses created a Great Depression in six southern West Virginia counties.’

“Economic decline has left behind a cycle of drug-abuse, poverty, and despair, and health implications.

“I think sometimes we struggle to truly define environmental justice—what it is and what it is not.

“Executive Order 12898 on environmental justice was signed by President Clinton in 1994.

“It has been implemented by Democrat and Republican presidents.

“I think it offers a perspective on environmental justice we can all agree with.

“The Executive Order tasks EPA and other agencies with ‘identifying and addressing, as appropriate, disproportionately high and adverse human health or environmental effects of its programs, policies, and activities on minority populations and low-income populations…’

“Environmental justice is meant to prevent negative impacts on low-income populations from regulations before they happen.

“Environmental justice for West Virginia means recognizing that regulations can harm communities, and making a decision not to issue regulations that would.

“I look forward to discussing with you how we can work together to ensure new climate regulations that could prevent some harm to communities in West Virginia and across the country do not go into place.

“I also look forward to discussing other environmental issues—from ensuring safe drinking water to cleaning up contaminated land—where we can work together.

“Thank you again for joining us today.

“Mr. Chairman, I yield back.” 

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