EPA nominee approved despite opposition from Sens. Lankford and Mullin

FILE - Joseph Goffman, associate assistant administrator for climate and senior counsel for the Environmental Protection Agency, addresses the Wyoming Infrastructure Authority winter meeting in Cheyenne, Wyo., on Feb. 3, 2015. The Senate approved Goffman, President Joe Biden's nominee, to lead the EPA's air pollution office on Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2024, just as the agency is set to finalize rules over climate-changing emissions from power plants and cars and trucks. (AP Photo/Mead Gruver, File)

 (AP Photo/Mead Gruver, File)


With Oklahoma U.S. Sens. James Lankford and Markwayne Mullin voting against him, President Biden’s nominee to lead the EPA’s air pollution office was confirmed by a one-vote margin.

Joe Goffman, a longtime EPA official was approved on a 50-49 vote. West  Virginia Sen. Joe Machin was the lone Democrat to oppose the nomination that was made two years ago. But Republican Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming, a strong critic of Goffman, missed the vote following the death of his wife Bobbi.

What was it about Goffman that Lankford and Mullin couldn’t support him? He was the man who had a central role in developing and carrying out rules and policies to deliver Biden’s green rules on the climate crisis, strict rules opposed by the GOP Senators.

During Goffman’s confirmation hearing before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, Sen. Mullin had pointed questions for Goffman. He first complained that Goffman had not reached out to him for a one-on-one conversation.

Below is Mullins pointed questioning of the EPA nominee:

Senator Mullin. So how much do you take into consideration 
when you are looking at regulating the East Coast versus the 
West Coast, especially when you start looking at emissions for 
vehicles and taking into consideration that my wife drives an 
average of about 5,000 miles, literally a month, to take my 
kids back and forth to school because we live out in the middle 
of nowhere on a ranch, and it is an hour for her to get there 
and get back, versus an electric car, where an electric car is 
not feasible, we'd spend half our time on a charger?
    Mr. Goffman. One of the approaches we have been taking for 
a long time, and we continue to take, is to set standards in a 
way to give the----
    Senator Mullin. But wouldn't you think a State should be 
open to that, that the State should be one to make the 
standards for them, rather than having the East Coast and the 
West Coast make those decisions? Because you mentioned 
California multiple times and PG&E, which is the Pacific Gas 
and Electric Company of California. You start talking about 
their standards. You have actually bragged on California.
    Do you think California sets the gold standard for setting 
emission rules and electrical rules as far as energy costs and 
setting the standard for clean energy and clean air?
    Mr. Goffman. From a technology perspective, California has 
been a leader. But we----
    Senator Mullin. OK, well, let's just stop on that. So there 
is, they are a leader, right? But yet they have the most 
unaffordable gasoline and energy costs, and they have rolling 
blackouts. I had the dis-privilege of staying most of 2020 in 
California because of an accident my son had, and he was going 
through rehabilitation there. It was interesting to me that 
around 8 o'clock to 10 o'clock every night, during the hottest 
times of the year, they had rolling blackouts.
    And they set them on zones. And it was interesting because 
we talked about the dis-privileged neighborhoods, but yet it 
was the dis-privileged neighborhoods that always seemed to have 
the rolling blackouts. They set out the zones, right, where 
they are at, and the zones were rated depending on their 
    They would have rolling blackouts, and they would set the 
time when those were going to hit. Is that affordable and 
reliable energy? Don't you think that should play a cost when 
considering things?
    Mr. Goffman. It should----
    Senator Mullin. But yet California you think is setting the 
standard for us, and you want to put their rules on Oklahoma?
    Mr. Goffman. I don't think we have the authority to do 
that, even if we wanted to.
    Senator Mullin. But if you are using California as a model 
and you are setting this rule, then you are forcing that on us. 
And yet that is a good plan. PG&E can't even get a permit to 
upgrade their systems because of the environmental impacts 
supposedly it has.
    So they have the most unreliable and some of the oldest 
transmission lines out there. Yet you are using them as someone 
that says they support your policies moving forward? And you 
think that is a bragging point?
    Mr. Goffman. I probably should have been more specific, 
Senator. We----
    Senator Mullin. It is not specific. We could have this 
conversation if you would just have reached out to me, and said 
let's have this conversation. But it concerns me when you are 
going to be heading this agency specifically in this area and 
are talking about California as a gold standard.
    I don't want California rules. I don't want them to play a 
role in Oklahoma. I want affordable and reliable energy. I 
don't want to have rolling blackouts, to which we don't have 
rolling blackouts in Oklahoma. I don't want them to make a 
decision on what neighborhood is going to be shut down and 
which isn't.
    The irony of that, when they have rolling blackouts, it was 
funny because it was never the retail area. It was never 
hospitals. It was never the fire department or the police 
stations. It was poor neighborhoods that was getting the raw--
and it was the same time over and over again.
    And the irony of that, too, get this, you could set your 
clock to it. Because when they had the blackout because they 
would announce when the time was going to be, right, wait 30 
minutes and you start hearing sirens. Because the criminals 
also knew when the blackouts were going to be, and they started 
breaking into houses about the same time.
    And that is the energy policy you want for the rest of 
    Mr. Goffman. Senator, I think we have a lot to talk about. 
I am going to make myself available.
    Senator Mullin. We have a lot to talk about, right. Because 
what I don't want you to do is force something on us. If people 
in California want to live that way, let them vote those people 
in, and let them make their decisions. But you are representing 
the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency of the 
United States. And your say should take into consideration what 
the States say, and the States should have a bigger stake in it 
than you. And you shouldn't set a standard that is going to be 
across the board.
    When you start talking about emission rules, that affects 
all of us. We haven't even talked about trucking, which I carry 
a CDL in my back pocket. I would love to have a longer 
conversation with you on that, too.
    I yield back.

Other Republicans were critical of the approval.

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