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 importance. 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 America? 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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