Click here to watch Ranking Member Capito’s opening remarks from the committee hearing.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee held a hearing on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed 2023 budget with EPA Administrator Michael Regan.
Below is the opening statement of Ranking Member Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), as prepared for delivery.
“Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And thank you, Mr. Administrator for being here with us today. I look forward to the rest of the hearing and the questions.
“As an appropriator, I am fond of saying the president’s budget is aspirational because Congress still retains the power of the purse, as we know. That’s why you’re here.
“But, there is much we can learn about the direction and policies of an administration from its budget request.
“As we assess your agency’s goals and requests for record levels of funding for next year, I have deep concerns about the actions undertaken by your agency, and the entire Biden administration, regarding domestic energy production and manufacturing, infrastructure development, energy exports, and operation of commodity and financial markets.
“In particular, it seems like we are witnessing a whole-of-government focus on killing domestic energy production.
“An effort that has become increasingly hard to understand, I believe—particularly as we see what’s going on globally—as the political winds blow against policies that would make us and our allies less energy secure and contribute further to near-record inflation, particularly for gasoline.
“From the SEC’s announcement that it will be requiring broad climate and emissions disclosures from regulated companies, to FERC’s pipeline policy change that was recently walked back due to bipartisan uproar, to the EPA’s EGU strategy and plans to clamp down on the oil and gas sector, there seems to be a grand strategy mounted against affordable and reliable energy.
“At the same time the administration enters into an agreement with the E.U. to ship LNG to Europe to help our allies break free from Russia, Climate Czar Gina McCarthy is now saying that U.S. climate policy is actually a fight against ‘natural gas and infrastructure investments.’
“It seems like the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing and honestly, sometimes I wonder what is the real message and who is the real messenger.
“While you were before this committee more than a year ago, I sought assurances that unaccountable czars like Gina McCarthy and John Kerry at the White House would not be the ones guiding environmental policy.
“Now we are in the second year of the Biden administration, and I believe it still remains an open question.
“Every agency, from FERC to the Corps to the SEC and beyond, seem to be creating out of thin air and usurping EPA’s role—and your role—as the lead agency for environmental issues.
“With EPA playing a supportive role in the administration’s assault on our energy and economic security, I think we are right to be skeptical about providing additional funding or authority to the agency until we have a firmer understanding of who is calling the shots and who in the federal bureaucracy should be accountable for the inevitable fallout from these policies.
“Unfortunately, sometimes I can’t quite tell what EPA is up to, because on this committee, despite our jurisdiction, we do not have the oversights into how EPA decisions are being made.
“When we talked at your confirmation hearing, you pledged numerous times to be transparent—and sometimes we found that you are and then sometimes not so much—and to communicate with Congress on your decision-making process.
“It has now been 343 days, almost a year, since you committed to sending information on the Nationally Determined Contribution, or NDC, to this committee, and you have not sent any information.
“The American people and Congress still do not know how this administration plans to meet its climate goals of 50%-52% greenhouse gas emissions reductions by 2030, and what it might mean for their jobs, energy costs, and the prices of goods and services during a time of already historic inflation.
“The NDC is not the only place where this administration is kind of hiding the ball.
“In November, nine Senate Committee Ranking Members, including myself, sent a letter to the White House asking for insight into the development and use of ‘Social Cost of Greenhouse Gas’ figures.
“These figures have far-reaching impacts across the entire economy.
“We’ve expressed concerns about the lack of transparency in this process and requested a basic information from the Interagency Working Group.
“Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers and I then followed up last month with another letter on the same issue.
“We still have not received a response to either letter.
“The NDC and the Social Cost of Greenhouse Gas figures are just two examples of policies where the administration refuses to be transparent to the American people and to Congress.
“Many of my oversight requests are related to policies of the Office of Air and Radiation, which is overseen by Clean Power Plan architect Joe Goffman, who has been the unconfirmed lead political official in that office since last January.
“Just a few weeks ago, President Biden nominated Goffman to lead that office as Assistant Administrator.
“In the meantime, the two of you have announced plans to layer on new regulations that will raise electricity prices, including of coal, oil, and natural gas, at a time of record prices.
“EPA’s mission of protecting human health and the environment is too important to be sidelined by the elevation of certain political signaling and a lack of transparency and accountability– all at the literal expense of the American people.
“I would like to add after that strong statement that I’d like to thank you for your offer to come and visit West Virginia and oversee some of our water systems as we’re implementing the IIJA, and I’m hoping that we can do that in the future and then maybe talk a little bit more about some of these issues that we might not cover in some of the questioning.
“So, thank you again for being with us today.”
# # #