Sen. Tom Carper, D-Delaware, led Democrats on Jan. 16 in questioning Environmental Protection Agency Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler in the committee’s hearing on his nomination.
Carper urged the acting administrator to act with compassion and urgency to address the growing threat of climate change and to support the policies that strengthen protections for the environment and public health while providing certainty for industry and stakeholders.
“I live in Delaware, the lowest lying state in the country, where we feel the urgency to address climate change because we see its vestiges every day. Our state is sinking while the oceans are rising. Not too far away, Ellicott City has withstood two 500-year floods in one year. Across the country, communities are facing wildfires the size of states, while others measure rainfall by the foot instead of the inch. The American people feel the urgency of this growing crisis; they deserve an EPA administrator who will act with compassion and urgency to address climate change…One of the things I just don’t sense here is a sense of urgency to do something about this. I’m looking for some passion here, and I just don’t feel it. That’s deeply troubling,” said Carper.
“I’ve sat in this hearing room for 18 years, and I’ve always looked for ‘win-win’ policies that strengthen protections for our environment and public health without impinging on job creation and economic growth,” said Carper. “Right now, automakers are pleading for certainty and predictability — they want EPA to strive for more rigorous auto emission standards. The utility industry has already met mercury air toxic standards, at a third the expected cost of compliance — they want EPA to keep the MATS rule in place and effective. American companies create the technology and the jobs to help our country phase down harmful hydrofluorocarbons — several Republican senators agree with me that the Senate should ratify the Kigali amendment to the Montreal Protocol. It boggles my mind that EPA is not seizing on these commonsense ‘win-win’ policies, and I urge Acting Administrator Wheeler to appreciate and act upon the opportunities in front of him.”
Carper implored Wheeler to reverse course and commit to policy “win-wins” that protect the environment and public health while providing the industry with certainty:
— Strong fuel economy and greenhouse gas emission standards: Automakers, public health groups and environmental organizations support strong clean car standards, which would provide long-term certainty for domestic industry and help America compete economically on the global stage. But EPA — under Wheeler’s leadership — is leading the way in rolling back the sensible fuel economy standards of the Obama administration, and is also poised to rescind the authority of California to adopt (and for 13 other states, including Delaware, to adopt) its own standards.
— Mercury and Air Toxics Standards rule: There is broad support, from the utility industry to environmental and public health advocacy groups to the Chamber of Commerce, to keep this rule in place and effective. It has been shown to be effective and extremely cost-effective in reducing airborne pollution. Despite this, EPA has proposed action that will put the MATS rule in legal jeopardy and is taking comment on rescinding the MATS completely.
— Support for the submission of the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol for Ratification: This move is supported by a broad group of stakeholders, including the American Chemistry Council, the Chamber of Commerce, FreedomWorks, Sierra Club and several Republican senators. But EPA political officials are reportedly opposing the submittal of the treaty to the Senate.
— Protecting both consumers and workers from exposure to methylene chloride: Administrator Scott Pruitt in May 2018 announced EPA’s plan to finalize a ban on some uses of methylene chloride, a harmful and often fatal chemical component of paint strippers. The EPA recently sent a ban on that protects consumers to the Office of Management and Budget to be finalized, but exempted workers exposed to the chemical from the ban.
— Combatting PFAS in drinking water: The EPA under Acting Administrator Wheeler has not taken action on Perfluorinated Alkylated substances, or PFAS, dangerous chemicals contaminating drinking water supplies. Today, in response to Carper, Wheeler declined to commit to setting a drinking water standard for PFAS.
View Carper’s concluding remarks at bit.ly/2AR8bYN, and find his opening statement, as prepared for delivery, at bit.ly/2RwvdP0.