Senate committee to vote on EPA, NRC nominees Wednesday

Source: Kevin Bogardus, E&E News reporter • Posted: Monday, October 16, 2017

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee is set to vote on several nominees for the Trump administration, including some of the president’s more controversial picks for U.S. EPA.

On Wednesday, the panel will consider four EPA nominees as well as Jeff Baran, who has been nominated for another term at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and Paul Trombino, picked to be administrator for the Federal Highway Administration.

The EPA nominees to be voted on are Michael Dourson to head up the agency’s chemicals office; Bill Wehrum, picked for air chief; Matt Leopold, nominated for general counsel; and David Ross to lead the water office. Dourson and Wehrum ran into opposition from Democrats during a confirmation hearing earlier this month.

Dourson faced tough questioning over his work for industry clients at his former nonprofit consulting firm, Toxicology Excellence for Risk Assessment. Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), the panel’s ranking member, said to Dourson at one point, “There are some really serious questions about your heart” (E&E Daily, Oct. 5).

Wehrum, a partner at law firm Hunton & Williams LLP, also came under scrutiny for his industry ties, having represented several clients who fought EPA regulations in court. He also struggled with a series of questions about climate change, refusing to interpret charts at the request of Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) (E&E News PM, Oct. 4).

In contrast, Baran, a Democratic NRC commissioner, may not receive much Republican support. Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), chairman of the committee, said that he may oppose Baran’s nomination (Greenwire, Oct. 4).

Schedule: The markup is Wednesday, Oct. 18, at 10 a.m. in 406 Dirksen.