Senate EPW Committee reschedules vote on EPA nominees

Source: Kevin Bogardus, E&E News reporter • Posted: Monday, October 23, 2017

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee is taking a second shot at moving through a slate of President Trump’s nominees, including some controversial picks for U.S. EPA.

On Wednesday, the panel will vote on four of Trump’s nominees for key EPA positions: Michael Dourson to lead the chemicals office; Matt Leopold, nominated for general counsel; David Ross to head up the water office; and Bill Wehrum, picked for air chief.

The committee will also vote on Jeff Baran, up for another term at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and Paul Trombino, nominated for administrator for the Federal Highway Administration.

The committee was scheduled to vote on the nominees last week, but Chairman John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) put off the meting amid controversy over EPA’s plans for the renewable fuel standard.

Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), an EPW member, had raised concerns about Wehrum over his answers to her questions regarding the RFS. EPA had hinted that it planned to lower required biofuel volumes under the program. And with Ernst’s support in question, Republicans alone didn’t have enough votes to advance the nominee.

Ernst and other GOP farm state senators, however, have since won concessions from EPA on the RFS. Administrator Scott Pruitt reassured senators in a letter Thursday that he would adhere to the program (E&E Daily, Oct. 20).

In a statement following the release of Pruitt’s missive, Ernst said she was “pleased to see these commitments from EPA Administrator Pruitt to uphold the RFS as intended by Congress.”

Like Wehrum’s, Dourson’s nomination has also attracted heavy opposition from Democrats due to his industry ties. The chemicals chief nominee has come under more scrutiny since E&E News reported last week that he had already joined EPA as an adviser before being confirmed by the Senate (E&E Daily, Oct. 18).