Senate panel deadlocks on long-delayed Biden EPA nomination

Source: BY ZACK BUDRYK, The Hill • Posted: Tuesday, November 29, 2022

FILE – A smokestack stands at a coal plant on Wednesday, June 22, 2022, in Delta, Utah. On Monday, Sept. 19, the world’s first public database of fossil fuel production, reserves and emissions launches. It shows that the United States and Russia have enough fossil fuel reserves to exhaust the world’s remaining carbon budget to stay under 1.5 degrees Celsius warming. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee tied on the frequently postponed nomination of a key Environmental Protection Agency official Tuesday, sending the nomination to the Senate floor.

President Biden first nominated Joseph Goffman in March to serve in the EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation of the Environmental Protection Agency, which handles air quality. A vote on Goffman has been delayed three previous times due to lack of Democratic senators’ availability, which would have allowed Republicans on the panel to kill the nomination.

The panel voted 10-10 along party lines on Goffman’s nomination Tuesday, meaning Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) must file a discharge petition for a full Senate vote on the nomination.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) voted to advance Goffman’s nomination. However, he said during the hearing that he will not vote for his confirmation until a provision of the Inflation Reduction Act providing $7 billion to incentivize solar energy installation for low-income families is implemented.

“I will be voting for Mr. Goffman in this committee, but I will not support his nomination on the Senate floor until I receive a commitment from the EPA in writing that it will implement this program primarily to expand residential solar throughout this country,” Sanders said.

Goffman, who already leads the office on an acting basis, has been a frequent target of Republicans for his role in developing the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan for power plants to phase out carbon emissions. The Supreme Court struck down the plan 6-3 in June.

“Both throughout his previous service in the Obama administration and during the 22 months he has been at EPA in the Biden administration in a non-Senate-confirmed role, he has made his leadership style and policy views clear,” Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.V.), the panel’s ranking member, said in a statement. “He has worked to develop regulations that harm our energy sector, will raise prices on American families and businesses, and are based on overreaching, illegal interpretations of the Clean Air Act as found by the Supreme Court.”