For too long, bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. have ignored West Virginians while they make decisions that fundamentally reshaped our state’s economy and everyday way of life. As a candidate, President Biden promised that he would be a “President for All Americans.” I had hoped that President Biden would stay true to his word and steer us away from that harmful past. A year and a half into this administration, it is clear the president instead wants to double down on a devastating regulatory onslaught, prescribed by bureaucrats who “know what is best” at the expense of West Virginians.
Currently, the EPW Committee, where I serve as the top Republican, is considering the nomination of former Obama-era Environmental Protection Agency official Joe Goffman to serve as an assistant administrator for EPA.
President Biden’s nomination of Joe Goffman as the EPA chief air regulator shows that he wants to repeat the Obama administration’s devastating War on Coal and reshape our economy through regulatory overreach.
President Biden waited a historic 412 days to nominate Joe Goffman for the position as head of the EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation — longer than any other incoming president since the position was created.
Yet in the end, President Biden chose a man who has been serving as the temporary leader of the office since day one of this administration, and served in that same office for all eight years of the Obama administration. That means Mr. Goffman has had a hand in every significant and overreaching air and climate regulation issued by the Obama administration and the Biden administration so far.
Throughout the Obama administration, Goffman made a name for himself writing some of the most overreaching and costly air regulations ever including the illegal Clean Power Plan. Known for his specialty of “teaching old laws to do new tricks,” Mr. Goffman and his Obama EPA colleagues tried to abuse their limited powers under the Clean Air Act to eliminate coal-generated electricity. The Supreme Court prevented that attempted EPA power grab from going into effect in 2016. Even after the Supreme Court’s 2016 slap on EPA’s wrist, Joe Goffman remained one of the Clean Power Plan’s staunchest supporters. In 2019, Mr. Goffman said that he believed “success was the Clean Power Plan.”
Just last week, the Supreme Court struck down the Clean Power Plan once and for all. The court recognized it is Congress’s job to write the law, and the administration’s to faithfully execute the law as written. Bureaucrats like Mr. Goffman do not get to “teach” laws to perform new tricks. EPA does not have the authority to wage a war against coal and natural gas and restructure our energy sector. The people — represented through their elected members of Congress — determine what is best for the country on such economically and politically significant issues.
Given his past record, we all know what EPA will continue to do if he is confirmed: Claim success when it hurts energy-producing states like West Virginia and misapply the law.
This time, EPA has not only the mining and power sectors, but also manufacturing industries in its sights.
In April, EPA published a so-called “good neighbor” proposal to impose regulations on steel, concrete, and other critical manufacturing sectors, as well as more regulations on power plants. Regional grid operators have warned the proposal threatens grid reliability. By EPA’s own analysis, this proposal will drive up West Virginians’ electricity prices 5% by 2025.
That proposal is just one in a series of regulations EPA has announced that target the industries that keep our lights on, build our roads, and power our economy.
Joe Goffman has a proven track record of disregarding Congress and the law. He has led the creation of sweeping regulations and shown no regret when citizens and the courts point out the overreach. If the Senate were to confirm him as an assistant administrator, that decision will lead us to regulations worse than the ones he authored in the past.
I will not support Joe Goffman’s nomination, and I urge my colleagues in the Senate to oppose him as well. The president should nominate individuals who start listening to West Virginians who have been repeatedly left behind by Washington, D.C. and bureaucrats like Joe Goffman.
Sen. Shelley Capito, R-W.Va., serves on the following Senate committees: Appropriations, Environment and Public Works, Commerce, Science, & Transportation, and Rules and Administration.