Senate Environment and Public Works Committee

Nominations of Lisa P. Jackson to be Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Nancy Helen Sutley to be Chairman of the Council on Environmental Quality 1

406 Dirksen
Wed, 14 Jan 2009 15:00:00 GMT

Witnesses
  • Lisa P. Jackson, Nominated to be Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
  • Nancy Helen Sutley, Nominated to be Chairman of the Council on Environmental Quality

10:00 Boxer: Today marks a turning point for the environment and the health of the United States. I want to welcome Mrs. Jackson, who I’ve had the privilege to have several discussions in my office. Nancy Sutley has a strong record of service in my state of California. The mission of the EPA is to protect the public health and the environment. EPA must rely on science, not special interests. The chair of the CEQ needs to bring all the voices in the administration together.

10:11 Inhofe: What exactly is going to be the role of the new energy czar Carol Browner?

10:15 Lautenberg (D-N.J.): I am delighted to be able to greet Lisa Jackson. Lisa has fought to keep our state’s air clean. The challenges facing our environment are serious, numerous, and require immediate action.

10:20 Bob Menendez (D-N.J.): I’m proud to join my colleague in presenting Lisa Jackson to the committee. Her scientific background complements her managerial experience. I believe she will be the best administrator in the history of the department we have seen. In New Jersey, only the strong survive. Not only has she survived, she has thrived.

10:25 Boxer (D-Cal.): I’m going to miss Sens. Bond and Voinovich. But we keep renewing this Senate. Even when we disagree we’ve had a great working relationship.

10:26 Bond: We’ll do everything we can to keep it interesting.

10:27 Inhofe: We had breakfast this morning with the new members. I will really miss these two guys.

10:27 Klobuchar: I welcome our two new members. I enjoyed meeting with Jackson and Sutley. First, to quote Sen. Clinton, I’ve been very concerned that the EPA has been “operating in an evidence-free zone.” I’d like no more redacted testimony, and no more testimony intended to mislead on the facts and the law. Home-grown energy will generate a boom in our economy. I look forward to your thoughts how protecting the environment will create a 21st-century economy.

10:31 Barrasso: Congratulations to both of you, and thank you for both coming to my office. We in Wyoming are concerned when federal laws are used in ways they were never intended. Ranchers and miners in Wyoming know that dealing with climate change through the Clean Air Act would be a disaster. Turning the Endangered Species Act into a climate change bill is something Congress never intended. The true intent of the Clean Water Act—there’s overwhelming objection to extending jurisdiction over all water in the United States.

10:35 Boxer: We really have very big differences. You’re not going to make everybody happy. If you do, you’re doing nothing.

10:36 Merkley: We’ll miss Voinovich and Bond’s experience.

10:38 Bond: I want to protect the natural resources of Missouri. I was the co-author of the acid rain emissions trading provisions of the Clean Air Act. We need to protect our families. We’re suffering right now. They’re facing the housing crisis and job loss. Protecting families from climate change proposals that would raise costs by $6.7 trillion. That means zero-carbon nuclear power. Cellulosic ethanol. We want clean cars. We want clean coal technology. But we can’t support proposals from East and West Coast states that would kill Midwest manufacturing. We want to find a middle ground.

10:42 Carper: We can no longer afford inaction on climate change or air pollution. We must send the right signals to industry. We need leaders that can build alliances. I can think of noone more qualified to lead the EPA and the CEQ than Ms. Jackson and Ms. Sutley. Inaction means that thousands will die prematurely from pollution, thousands of children will be exposed to mercury.

10:47 Alexander: I enjoyed our meeting. Sen. Carper and I have worked together quite a bit: we need a new CAIR rule and a new rule on mercury. In discussions about climate change, I hope you will focus on carbon-free solutions and be skeptical of so-called renewable solutions—they’re just wind. Windmills on our ridges would interfere with our views of the Smokies. Subsidies for wind are 27 times greater per kilowatt-hour than any other renewables. All revenues from cap and trade should be returned to the people. A carbon-free fuel standard and cap and trade for power plants would cover two-thirds of all carbon emitted, then return all the money collected to people having trouble paying their energy bills.

10:51 Cardin: Thank you for being willing to serve. I’ve had the chance to talk with both of you in my office. The first issue I’m going to bring up is the Chesapeake Bay.

10:55 Isakson (R-Ga.): I’m very impressed by her resume, Tulane and Princeton. One of the unintended consequences of regulation is that it sometimes doesn’t work. There are ways to find flexibility. The potential regulation of greenhouse gases by the department has included the possibility of taxation on livestock. We have to be very careful about regulating natural emissions. I didn’t always agree with Carol Browner but she had a lot of sense. I was proud to be able to talk with you, Ms. Sutley, yesterday. It’s very important that we come up with a working water plan.

10:58 Whitehouse (D-R.I.): It is a perilous and fascinating time. With respect to the EPA, this is an agency that has fallen into significant distress. It needs its integrity restored. The people who work at the EPA give up a great deal in their lives. They’re not significantly well paid. They take pride in the mission. If you take away that pride by taking away the integrity of the agency, you risk taking away the key element of the agency’s success. Johnson has been a disgrace to this country.

11:02 Voinovich (R-Ohio): I think this next two years may be the most important two years I’ve served. I think some of the work we do on this committee is going to shape what the future looks like. I enjoyed our meeting in my office. For the record, I think Steve Johnson did an outstanding job as head of the EPA.

11:06 Lautenberg (D-N.J.): The EPA prevented action at the local levels. Under Mr. Johnson, the EPA sided with industry more often than not. The current administration has failed to provide sufficient funding to support the Superfund program. It’s time to usher in a better and brighter future.

11:10 Merkley (D-Ore.): It has been our experience in the past few years that it’s been up to the states to take the lead. We have the most aggressive renewable energy standard. The most aggressive energy efficiency standards for appliances.

11:15 Baucus (D-Mont.): Asbestos is an insidious poison.

11:17 Vitter (R-La.): I haven’t had a chance to visit with Nancy Sutley.

11:20 Jackson: Opening statement.

11:25 Baucus: Asbestos in Libby, Montana.

Jackson: It sounds like one of the worst sites I’ve heard of. I will report within 90 days on this issue.

Baucus: EPA’s never done a toxicity assessment.

11:33 Inhofe: Sen. Boxer and I genuinely like each other. This job is really tough. I was really pleased that you talked about transparency. This is very important. I don’t agree with the criticisms with the current administration not being forthcoming. I think they have. There’s never been a director who’s been more qualified than Stephen Johnson. I think he did a very good job.

Jackson: I look forward to working with this committee.

Inhofe: You were very emphatic about science. You said, science is my guide. That’s music to my ears. I know people don’t want to talk about it, but so many individuals have changed their mind on global warming. I want a commitment that you will take the time in the next two weeks that you will pull up my speech on the floor, and meet with you at some point.

Jackson: I’m happy to exchange views with you and to read your speech.

11:49 Boxer: It seems to a lot of us that there are disasters waiting to happen. EPA has authority to act. Will you commit to quickly assess the sites for immediate hazards and establish strong standards?

Jackson: EPA must assess the hundreds of sites out there immediately. Many are upstream of schools. I think EPA needs to assess first and foremost the current state. That’s only the beginning. EPA has in the past assessed its regulatory options with coal ash. It’s time to reassess those options.

Boxer: Sen Carper is going to have authority over TVA. We may move legislatively, but I think you have the authority to act. Rep. Rahall is looking to regulate under the Mining Act. I don’t think that’s necessary. Last year, President-elect Obama co-sponsored my bill to grant the California waiver. Will you immediately revisit the waiver?

Jackson: You have my commitment I will immediately revisit the waiver, looking at the science and the rule of law, relying on the advice of the staff.

11:55 Barrasso: On coal ash, I talked about clean coal technology with the nominee for Sec. of Energy and Interior. We don’t want to limit new technology.

Jackson: Coal is a vital resource in our country. It provides about 50% of our electricity. We have to mention in the same breath that it is the largest source of greenhouse emissions. We must invest aggressively in a technology that will work.

Barrasso: In the Financial Times, an article talks about what we’re asking people to do – to save the planet, they have to clean their teeth in the dark.

Jackson: One of the ways to begin to address climate change today is energy efficiency. Changing our habits, our appliances. I prefer not to think of this as pain as individual responsibility. People need to understand they have a responsibility in the choices they make. We should give them choices, allow them to have energy-efficient homes, more efficient cars.

Barrasso: Obama is going to appoint Carol Browner as White House adviser.

Jackson: Final EPA decisions will be made by the EPA administrator.

Barrasso: If you two disagree?

Jackson: I take very seriously my legal responsibility to enact the laws of Congress. Advisers can agree and disagree.

Barrasso: Questions of Congressional intent.

Jackson: I believe the laws are meant to have the flexibility to deal with the issues of today. I will commit to an ongoing conversation.

Barrasso: Unfunded mandates to states have grown.

Jackson: Budget realities for states are playing out every day. The EPA administrator has a role in formulating the President’s budget. Much of the permitting and enforcement work happens at the state level.

12:04 Lautenberg: I feel in some ways you’re part of my group. This is an engine that can’t stop. You were instrumental in writing New Jersey’s global warming law.

Jackson: We now have a modest cap-and-trade program operating in ten Northeast states. I look forward to sharing that experience with those in the committee that want to. There’s a tremendous role for states and municipalities in terms of reducing global warming emissions.

Lautenberg: We have to eliminate or certainly reduce this attack on the welfare of our children. We are facing something if unchecked will affect the health of future generations to a disastrous level.

12:12 Isakson: I have a suggestion for you to consider: people in regulatory positions can assume their relationship with those they regulate is adversarial, or they can work with businesses. I hope you’ll work on the issue of downstream pollution.

Jackson: As a resident of a state that gets one-third of its pollution from outside sources, I well understand the conundrum of meeting attainment standards.

Isakson: Taxing cattlemen that emit methane naturally since God created the earth.

Jackson: My commitment is that we will have conversations with stakeholders. All industries have the potential to do environmental harm. We have to make sure they are ready to deal with the future.

Isakson: Erosion control and the Clean Water Act.

12:19 Boxer: I can assure you that 80% of this country are much more worried that we’ve done nothing on CO2.

12:21 Whitehouse: There’s some dispute on this committee on whether the EPA is in distress. I don’t think there’s any dispute within the EPA.

Jackson: The role of the Inspector General is important.

Whitehouse: Watch out for OMB. It has become the political bullyboy influencing agency decisionmaking. I’ve spoken to Peter Orszag about this. Cass Sunstein’s appearance promises reform. Rhode Island is one of the states participating in the California waiver. How much can you go forward on your own?

Jackson: Much of the initial agenda for the EPA is now set by court decisions. I will review the California waiver decision forthwith. The Supreme Court has ordered the EPA to make an endangerment finding. When that finding is made, it triggers the beginning of the regulatory process. Another court decision on CAIR commands EPA to review that. All those things together means there will be an extraordinary burst of activity not just from EPA but also from Congress. I think there is a real opportunity to move together. Industry would prefer a clear roadmap. I think there is tremendous opportunity there.

12:29 Boxer: Obama committed not to reviewing the waiver, but signing the waiver. TVA needs to stop bemoaning commitments to the environment.

12:32 Cardin: We look forward to the California waiver going forward. Chesapeake bay and lead poisoning.

Jackson: Lead poisoning in children is an important issue.

12:39 Carper.

12:50 Voinovich: It would be great to get Browner together with the committee. We haven’t done very much in this committee. We haven’t been able to harmonize issues of energy, economy, environment. A hundred communities are being asked to take care of their combined-sewer overflow problems. We have an interesting environment today. We need to do more planning than ever before. I think there’s an urgency about climate change. It has national security implications. But how do you do something without killing the economy?

Jackson: We need to be able to review our rules: Are they legal, are they sustainable, are they based on science?

1:02 Merkley: We have one lifetime to address climate change.

1:32 Boxer: Perchlorate. Superfund.

1:50 Jackson hearing concludes.

2:05 Sutley: I will play an important role in formulating the executive branch’s policy on climate change. There is effectively no agency that is not touched by these issues. It will be a complete effort by the executive branch.

Boxer: OMB role.

Sutley: The OMB has executive order responsibilities. I think science decisions and science review should be done by science experts in the agencies. I don’t expect people in the OMB unless they are scientists to review the science.

Boxer: OMB has gotten involved and called the shots. It’s a red flag. The Obama OMB may be different from the Bush OMB. We look to you for leadership on the environment. From what you’ve said, I feel good about it. The IRIS program.

2:16 Whitehouse: You play everybody who participated in the public process for a fool when you make actual decisions in secret. The entire agency process was a sham, all done behind closed doors by OMB and the White House. This is an issue I’ve taken up with OMB.

2:19 Sutley: The question of how the role of the climate adviser is formulated is an important one. The CEQ will retain all of its statutory roles. The EPA administrator will continue her advisory role. Climate change is one of the most important issues of the day. I can tell you that we will be working together closely, and the decisions of which policies the president will pursue will be his decision.

Whitehouse: Will you report to Carol Browner on issues of climate change?

Sutley: I know we will work together very closely.

Whitehouse: Oceans.

2:27 Boxer: There are some questions in writing that we would like answers to by Friday so we can move on the nominations. We stand adjourned.

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  1. Richard Mercer Wed, 14 Jan 2009 16:50:38 GMT

    Inhofe is still talking about the phony lists of skeptic scientists like the Oregon Petition and his own list of 413 and now 650 “prominent scienitsts” who disagree with the IPCC.

    These are phony padded lists, the Oregon Petition has been completely debunked.

    Here’s Inhofe’s list of 413

    20 economists

    49 who are retired

    44 television weathermen

    70 scientists with no expertise in climate study

    84 scientists who are either connected with the oil industry or are paid by it.

    Scientists who were included against their will, and who agree with the IPCC

    Inhofe and Morano misinterpreted a paper published in Geophysical Research Letters. It should be pointed out that Morano is no more a scientist than Senator Inhofe. They claimed that it showed proof that the sun was responsible for the warming that’s been observed in the last 100 years. The paper they quote says exactly the opposite from what they claim. This has been verified by the author of the paper.

    http://climateprogress.org/2008/12/12/scientist-our-conclusions-were-misinterpreted-by-inhofe-co2-but-not-the-sun-is-significantly-correlated-with-temperature-since-1850/

    His cohort in making up this list is Morano, who cooked up the phony swiftboat attack on Sen John Kerry, and the censoring of climate scientists at NASA’s GISS. Their new claim of 650 is just as ludicrous as the first list.

    The first list of 413 included Meteorologist George Waldenberger, who sent Inhofe an email asking to be removed from the list. They had miscontrued statements of his, to make it sound like he was a skeptic. He told Inhofe that he has never disagreed with the consensus on climate change. And Waldenberger said:

    “You quoted a newspaper article that’s main focus was scoring the accuracy of local weathermen. Hardly Scientific … yet I’m guessing some of your other sources pale in comparison in terms of credibility. You also didn’t ask for my permission to use these statements. That’s not a very respectable way of doing “research”.

    Guess what? He’s on the new list of 650 also.

    Here’s the scoop on the Oregon Petition

    http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Oregon_Institute_of_Science_and_Medicine

    http://www.prwatch.org/node/8116

    The group who issued it contains NO climate scientists, and they believe that industrialization has made for more biodiversity and a healthier environment.

    I’m not kidding.

    This is the basis for Bob Lutz, VP of General Motors, claim of thousands of scientists who disagree on global warming.

    I’m not kidding.

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