WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee held a hearing to consider the nomination of Martha Williams to be Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) of the Department of the Interior.
Below is the opening statement of Ranking Member Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), as prepared for delivery:
“Thank you, Chairman Carper.
“Welcome to the committee. As you know—and you’ve been around here before—we have a lot of moving parts today, so we are so excited to have you in front of the committee.
“I really want to welcome Kate and Ian. I understand that I missed their introductions, but I know you’re very proud of your mom today and I’m really pleased that you were able to make the trip with her.
“Good morning. We are considering the nomination to lead the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Ms. Martha Williams.
“I enjoyed our discussion the other week, and I look forward to hearing more about your work at the service so far and your vision for the service moving forward.
“I applaud the service’s expansion of hunting and fishing on the lands and waters it manages, which was announced in August.
“As you know, our sportsmen play a key role in our conservation efforts.
“I look forward to working together on more ways to expand outdoor recreation opportunities across the country, including in my own state at the National Conservation Training Center in Shepherdstown, which is absolutely gorgeous, and also at the Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge in West Virginia where we have a new Fish and Wildlife Center that I worked on. It’s a great educational and beautiful way to pay tribute to a very unusual mountainous region of our state.
“As we discussed in our meeting, while I am encouraged by the efforts to expand hunting and outdoor recreation opportunities, I am concerned with a number of the planned regulatory actions announced by the service under this administration.
“The impacts that those actions could have on landowners and the timely delivery of needed infrastructure projects are significant.
“Timely project construction is critical, in particular as the administration works to implement the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act the president signed this week and the chairman and I were lucky enough to be there while the president did this.
“We will not fully realize the benefits of that law if permitting and environmental review processes bog down projects with delays and duplicative reviews.
“Make no mistake, this is not to short-cut any reviews that we would have. It’s to short-cut the time that it takes these reviews to move forward.
“For example, the service is currently taking public comment on an additional, new potential permitting program for the incidental take of migratory birds.
“We already talk about the need to streamline the existing permitting process, and this action would layer on yet another requirement.
“You referenced the importance of timely consultations and reviews, but I am not sure how another burdensome layer would achieve that goal.
“In addition to aggressive regulatory actions, I am disappointed about the administration’s lack of transparency, particularly on climate and environmental issues.
“Ms. Williams, I hope we do not see this same lack of concern for transparency occur under your leadership at Fish and Wildlife.
“We are continuing to see aggressive policies and actions from the White House.
“Despite the potentially wide-ranging effects of these proposals, administration leaders are yet again hiding the ball from the American people, making it difficult for us to hold the administration accountable.
“We should have had more nominations from the president to consider today.
“Don’t get me wrong, we are pleased to have you here because this is a critical agency.
“I have raised this multiple times, but President Biden has not put forth a nominee to lead one of EPA’s most significant offices, the Office of Air and Radiation.
“In fact, yesterday marked the 300th day of Joe Goffman serving as acting leader of that office.
“To give that further context, 300 days is the maximum amount of time he can serve as the acting leader under the Federal Vacancies Act.
“300 days and still no nominee.
“This is the very office that is reportedly developing the growing number of costly and far-reaching environmental regulations that President Biden, countless administration officials, and Mr. Goffman touted in Glasgow.
“President Biden has also not put forth a nominee to lead the Federal Highway Administration.
“Can you imagine us putting into effect the bill that was just signed into law without the person leading a very critical agency? They will play an integral part in the implementation of the historical infrastructure act that we just passed.
“The agency responsible to oversee the safe use of our nation’s nuclear energy power plants, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), is currently working with just three commissioners and has two vacancies.
“Instead of ensuring transparency and accountability to the American public and Congress, the president has chosen to rely on his climate czars sitting in their offices in the White House.
“The senators on both sides of this dais are here to fulfill this institution’s Constitutional role of advice and consent.
“It is time for President Biden to stop delaying and nominate individuals for these critical posts and stop shielding this administration’s decisions.
“Thank you again for taking the time.
“I would like to note that Senator Daines wrote a very glowing reference to the rest of us in favor of your nomination. That I think carries great weight, and I congratulate you for securing that from a good friend of both of ours.
“I thank you for appearing before us today. And with that, I will go to the questioning.”
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