Sen. Tom Carper recently released the responses he received to questions he asked of Michael Dourson, Bill Wehrum, David Ross and Matthew Leopold — individuals who have been nominated to serve in top posts at the Environmental Protection Agency.
After an Oct. 4 confirmation hearing before the Environment and Public Works Committee, the nominees' responses to substantive questions submitted for the record by Carper have raised concerns.
Of particular concern were Dourson’s and Wehrum’s repeated attempts to evade Carper’s basic questions about issues they would be overseeing if confirmed to serve at EPA. For instance, Dourson, who has been nominated to run the EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, did not provide a substantive answer to a single one of Carper’s eight questions related to the implementation of the bipartisan Toxic Substances Control Act, which was passed almost unanimously by Congress. Even on general questions regarding how Dourson thinks EPA should protect people from exposure to chemicals — the main function of the OCSPP — Dourson did not provide complete responses.
Similarly, Wehrum, who has been nominated to run EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation, was not forthcoming in his responses to basic policy questions related to climate change, greenhouse gas regulations, the Paris Climate Accord, mercury emissions and ozone. He also did not provide a substantive response to most questions about how he would address concerns about his ability to be an impartial regulator in light of his myriad of conflicts of interests.
“These were not difficult questions. An individual seeking to become our nation’s top chemical safety regulator should easily be able to answer how EPA should protect the most vulnerable among us from exposures to chemicals or the important new chemical safety law he would be charged with implementing. Dr. Dourson didn’t provide substantive responses to most of my questions about both of those key issues,” Carper said. “Mr. Wehrum, who has been nominated to run EPA’s air office, similarly dismissed my straightforward questions on ozone, mercury emissions and greenhouse gases — some of the most serious threats to clean air. Unfortunately, their evasiveness doesn’t inspire confidence in Dr. Dourson and Mr. Wehrum’s nominations.”
Additionally, the four EPA nominees refused to commit to basic transparency measures, including:
— Shielding EPA career staff from improper political interference by the White House.
— Informing EPA career staff of their right to communicate with Congress, especially after following reports that EPA’s recent anti-leak training omitted this information.
— Ensuring that EPA career staff receive appropriately documented directions following reports that verbal direction was given to staff directing them to simply delete economic data while preparing EPA’s Clean Water Rule repeal proposal.
— Publishing daily copies of their calendars, as was the case for all Senate-confirmed — and other — EPA officials during the Barack Obama Administration when Gina McCarthy served as EPA Administrator.
Carper’s questions submitted to the nominees are available at bit.ly/2yv9jRa. The EPA nominees’ responses to Carper’s questions submitted for the record are available at bit.ly/2hLrMPR. The business meeting to consider these nominations is set for Oct. 18.