February 03, 2021
Today, U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) senior member of the Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, questioned Michael Regan, Secretary of the Department of Environmental Quality of North Carolina, on his nomination to be Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Inhofe: Well first of all, thank you very much. I’ve had the honor to visit with Michael Regan and I’ve heard all kinds of good things about him and I think we’re going to get along really well. I told him during our introductory discussion about how well I got along with particularly Lisa Jackson when she was in the Obama administration. In fact she liked me so well and I liked her so well that we spent a lot of time together and she even still today has my Christmas card picture of my kids on her wall. So, we want to have that kind of relationship with you and I think that’s going to happen.
I have four things I just want to mention. There won’t be time to cover them so I won’t be asking for a lot in specific responses. One is on the Green New Deal. You hear all kinds of extreme interpretations as to what does that mean. Things like banning fossil fuels, banning air travel, controlling how much beef we can eat and all these things. And, the cost would be about 93 trillion dollars, that I believe is accurate. The other things that affects me appropriately is it’s war on fossil fuels. That was behind us I thought for a while and it looks like it may be coming back. What I’d like to ask of you, Michael, is that you sit down with me and other members of this committee and talk over the different aspect of that what is alleged to be the Green New Deal and what it’s really going to mean in terms of putting it together. I agreed with Senator Tillis, that you’re someone who listens and you want to be fair and I think that would be a fair thing to do. What do you think?
Regan: Well I can pledge to you that I will move forward the way I have in North Carolina. Which is using the power to convene. To bring everyone to the table. I would like to say that President Biden has his own ambitious climate plan. One that we believe harnesses the full power of government. But not only looks at regulations that will come from EPA but investment strategies that come from the broader government. So, I look forward to engaging with you and your colleagues on how we execute on the President’s vision for an ambitious climate goal.
Inhofe: That’s very fair. Now, the second of the four things I wanted to bring up having to do with the WOTUS bill. Back during the Obama administration, they had the WOTUS bill, and it was essentially—for those who might be new on this committee and not familiar with what that meant—it’s the water regulation that would be transferred from the states to the federal government. This is something that the American Farm Bureau and all of the agricultural organizations had down as their major concern at that time. Then along came President Trump and changed that—added a new rule that I thought was working quite well. My question on that one would be can we have a chance to talk about that, because that issue is going to be the one—and politically I have to say this too—it’s one that everyone ought to be concerned about because that’s the number one issue.
The third thing I want to bring up is on pipelines. I noticed you approved a permit for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. You denied a permit for the Mountain Valley pipeline. There may be, for the record in writing, you can come back and distinguish between the two of them and what your feelings are about pipelines.
Lastly, I want to mention the Small Refinery Exemptions. Now, in my state of Oklahoma, the Clean Air Act exempts small refineries facing “disproportionate economic hardship” from the costly Renewable Fuel Standard. Now, the action I would like to ask for you would be the United State Supreme Court has already taken up the case of Holly Frontier vs. EPA. Which would seem logical to me, that before establishing any real policies concerning small refinery exemptions, it might be a good idea to get the response from the United States Supreme Court on that case. What do you think?
Regan: You know, I think that’s one way to go. The one thing I know I have to do is consult with our general counsel, understand where we are in the legal process and also understand what options do we have to continue conversations. I think the courts will give us some ruling, but I also don’t want to lose the opportunity to take a look at what we’ve learned with the Obama-era WOTUS and the Trump-era WOTUS. As a state secretary, I’ve been on the receiving end of both. I’ve had conversations with farmers about both and I think that we do have a clear opportunity to look at how we protect our water quality while not overburdening our small farmers. And so, while we are looking at all of our opportunities through the legal system, I don’t want litigation to stifle what we can come up with as stakeholders having a conversation. I look forward to working with you on that.
Inhofe: I look forward to it. Thank you.