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In response to President Biden’s nomination for a senior Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) position, Senator Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.) said on Friday that she had placed a hold on the nomination, citing concerns about the EPA’s policy toward a coal plant in her state.
On Wednesday, Tom Carper, the chair of the Senate Environment Committee (D-Del. ), said that David Uhlmann’s nomination for the assistant administrator for enforcement and compliance assurance slot at the Environmental Protection Agency has been pulled from the schedule. During a mark-up Carper said that an unnamed committee member is waiting for more explanation from the agency before deciding whether or not to support the nomination.
Lummis issued the statement Wednesday, confirming that she was the senator involved and stated that the EPA had rejected the state’s regional haze plan. The plant is located in southeastern Wyoming. Lummis said she had decided to block the nomination because the EPA rejected state’s regional haze plan. As of 2003, 156 national parks and wilderness areas had been affected by regional haze, which is the result of air pollution.
In a statement, Lummis’ office announced that she would be holding all four of Biden’s currently unconfirmed EPA nominees to account for this decision.
The EPA’s decision today is a complete reversal from that of career EPA employees during the previous administration,” Lummis said in a statement.
“The Biden EPA’s decision here is needlessly hurting Wyoming’s energy workers and threatening America’s energy independence as well. It is blatantly political, and I will continue to block President Biden’s EPA nominees over this issue,” she continued. “Wyoming has worked tirelessly to comply with federal law on its regional haze plan for the Jim Bridger Power Plant. The Biden administration’s decision to reverse course to appease environmental activists, including climate czars in the White House, will not help the people, or the environment, of Wyoming.”
Prior to that vote, the committee had approved Uhlmann’s nomination 10-9 in December, with Lummis not voting. There have been frequent attacks on the Biden administration’s environmental policies by the Republican members of Congress, which include a target of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2050. The Republican Party has begun to attack the Obama administration’s energy agenda as being hurtful to the middle class and reducing the country’s energy independence after 2021 experienced price spikes in fuel worldwide, due to a variety of factors.
“EPA will continue to work with the Senate to confirm our nominees as quickly as possible and we will continue to work with Sen. Lummis and our partners in Wyoming to ensure they have information about agency action in the state,” EPA spokesperson Timothy Carroll said in a statement to The Hill.
The Hill followed up their their report regarding Lummis blocking Biden’s EPA nominee,t just five hours later, with the following:
Today we’re looking at Sen. Cynthia Lummis’s (R-Wyo.) hold on President Biden’s EPA nominees, a failed vote on Nord Stream 2 sanctions and former EPA staffers opposing Andrew Wheeler’s nomination in Virginia.
Let’s dig in a little further of the significance of this move for the country, which has particular concern for the economy in many states.
Nominating this individual would eliminate coal plants, reducing a major industry in multiple states across the nation, and debilitating it, not to mention that it forces Americans to rely on our enemies for vital resources we have at home. We’ve already seen what cutting the Keystone Pipeline has done to all of these things, including a massive hike in gas prices that occurred simultaneously with inflation. It’s a double whammy on the American people.
According to a spokesperson for Lummis, Lummis was waiting to hear whether the EPA would approve the regional haze plan proposed by Wyoming for the Jim Bridger power plant. This program aims at reducing pollution in order to increase visibility, which has proven troublesome for the power plant situated in southeastern Wyoming.
EPA recently released a proposal to reject Wyoming’s proposal to build a nuclear power plant following Wednesday’s markup session. As a result, there was a backlash from state officials, including Lummis, who expressed their anger.
“The Biden EPA’s decision here is needlessly hurting Wyoming’s energy workers and threatening America’s energy independence as well. It is blatantly political, and I will continue to block President Biden’s EPA nominees over this issue,” Lummis said in a statement, E&E News reported.
The senator’s spokesperson confirmed to E&E News that Lummis is holding up all of Biden’s EPA nominations, including Uhlmann.
Four EPA nominees have been nominated by the president and need to be confirmed by the Senate. It is also responsible for overseeing the agency’s solid waste division, which Carlton Waterhouse is leading, as well as the mission support division, which Amanda Howe is leading.
“EPA will continue to work with the Senate to confirm our nominees as quickly as possible, and we will continue to work with Sen. Lummis and our partners in Wyoming to ensure they have information about agency action in the state,” EPA spokesperson Tim Carroll told E&E News.
During the markup of Wednesday’s nominations, the committee advanced another candidate by a simple majority vote of 16-4 and 11-9, respectively, including Martha Williams, Biden’s choice as Fish and Wildlife Service director, and Chris Frey, tapped to lead the EPA’s science office.
EPA nominees will be blocked by Lummis in the future due to the issue, the congressman said in a statement. She called the EPA’s decision “blatantly political” and “a complete reversal from that of career EPA employees during the previous administration.”
“The ball is in the EPA’s court,” a Lummis spokesperson told Bloomberg Law. “Our goal is to keep the plant operating, and if the EPA has a counterproposal to do that, we are happy to discuss it.”
As the regional head for EPA’s mountains and plains region, KC Becker said the agency is looking forward to the public’s comments and further engagement opportunities on its proposal.
However, “our evaluation of information provided to date indicates the state’s revision to its 2014 regional haze plan is a step backward for visibility in our parks, wilderness areas, and communities,” Becker said in a statement.