U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), spoke on the Senate floor today about the nomination of Andrew Wheeler to be Deputy Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.
As prepared for delivery:
You know, it's awfully hard to find anyone who knows him well who will say anything bad about him. I guess the only thing you could criticize him for is he worked for me for 14 years, but I will tell you that during that time frame, I don't remember over a 14 year period, anyone ever accusing him of being unfair and being negative in any way at all. But, a couple of things were said that I think I need to correct the record. And I need to be the one to correct it because I'm the guy he worked for a long period of time in both my personal office and in the capacity of chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee and it's because I know him so well that I have correct the record on his behalf.
One allegation made against Andrew in a news article is that he retaliated against a witness at an EPW Senate hearing in 2005 because we were unhappy with the witness’ testimony. nothing in that news article was true or accurate.
This was an article that came out just the other day. The witness in question and the major source of the article was Mr. Bill Becker. Now he was then the President of a thing called STAPPA, which is the Association of State Air Directors. These are the state directors and these are the ones that are now becoming more prominent in what they are able to get through. Mr. Becker charged, at that time, that in retaliation for his January 2005 testimony, the Committee launched an investigation into his organization’s finances.
In reality, the investigation was actually launched almost a year before Mr. Becker appeared before the Committee. That's a huge difference. I mean, the article could not be true. Prior to the hearing, my staff notified the minority staff of the committee that he was currently under investigation and we recommended against calling Mr. Becker as a witness. I still have a copy of the memo my staff prepared for me before the hearing in 2005 noting that they had notified the minority staff about the investigation. This is the letter and I ask unanimous consent it be inserted in the record at this point.
Unfortunately, facts don’t seem to matter when a Trump nomination is at stake. The story that isn’t being told is about his character and integrity. People don’t remember that the Bush EPA told minority members of the EPW Committee—the Democrats—that they wouldn’t respond to their letters.
Well, it was Andrew Wheeler that made it clear to the EPA that they would answer any questions the minority had or, as chairman, I would submit their questions for them.
No one is telling that story, but they are spreading other allegations.
Another negative story that is making the rounds is that Andrew hosted fundraisers for myself and Senator Barrasso while it was known he was going to be nominated as Deputy Administrator for the EPA. The fact of the matter is that Andrew hosted these fundraisers long before even being interviewed by the White House for this nomination.
After dispensing with the falsehoods surrounding Andrew, the rest of the opposition to him comes down to two things and two things only: he doesn’t have the “correct” views on environmental policy and he worked for the “wrong” people—including me. Now, those things are actually stated on the Senate Floor and I understand that. And if they consider that to be an opposition or something that needs to be corrected, I believe they're wrong because he was and excellent, excellent employee during that time and all the other times and the fact that he had a choice of someone to support when he hadn't even been notified that he might be considered for this nomination is significant.
The extreme environmentalists were given free reign under the Obama Administration for eight years—including writing the EPA’s regulations—and they can’t handle the fact that the American people said “enough!”
Trump and Scott Pruitt have been delivering relief for the American people and the economy since they've been in office is responding. Andrew Wheeler will be a great help to Administrator Pruitt in continuing to implement President Trump’s vision of returning the EPA to an agency of the people, subject to the rule of law.
Andrew has worked in the EPA before—even winning awards from the EPA—and will be a good steward for the environment. You know, it's always difficult when you know someone personally and you know their character and you have a personal love for them and for their career and you played an integral part. To hear things of a negative nature said about them and I think a lot of things they're grouping together—maybe they don't like philosophically Scott Pruitt. You know, I do.
I spent twenty years in business, I know what overregulation is and I know that our economy was suffering during the time—the eight years that we had others in charge. In fact, the proof of that is the average increase in our economy for eight years was 1.5 percent. Now, just because of this president and this administration, getting rid of some of the overregulations, it is now well in excess of 3 percent.
Now, people say "how are you going to pay for the road and rebuild the military that was torn down during the last administration?" They forget about the fact that no one disagrees with this—For every 1 percent increase in the economic activity or GDP, that equates to an additional revenue to the federal government of $1.9 trillion over a ten year period and that's the reason we are now at a position to do some of the things that we need to be doing in terms of infrastructure and other things and certainly our military and other areas. So, that is significant. And that's something that Andrew Wheeler knows well because we've gone through this in the past.
So anyway, he's a wonderful guy and I would like to find anyone who knows him well to say there is any flaw in his character. He's going to do a great job and they need his help and I appreciate the fact that I believe he is going to be confirmed to that position.