Chemical safety nominee receives praise

Senators widely praised President Obama's new pick for the Chemical Safety Board, Kirsten Kulinowski, during a hearing Wednesday before the Environment and Public Works Committee.

The president tapped Kulinowski to join the five-person board that investigates chemical accidents following the resignation of the last chairman.

Sen. Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyKennedy, Markey neck-and-neck in Massachusetts primary: poll Overnight Energy: EPA to regulate 'forever chemicals' in drinking water | Trump budget calls for slashing funds for climate science centers | House Dems urge banks not to fund drilling in Arctic refuge Democratic senators criticize plan that could expand Arctic oil and gas development MORE (D-Mass.) introduced Kulinowski, calling her a "highly technically qualified candidate" and urged his colleagues to back her nomination.

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"She is not a politician," added Sen. Barbara BoxerBarbara Levy BoxerFormer Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer joins DC lobbying firm Hillicon Valley: Ocasio-Cortez clashes with former Dem senator over gig worker bill | Software engineer indicted over Capital One breach | Lawmakers push Amazon to remove unsafe products Ocasio-Cortez blasts former Dem senator for helping Lyft fight gig worker bill MORE (D-Calif.), the committee's ranking member. "She is a scientist. That's something we need."

The former CSB chairman, Rafael Moure-Eraso, resigned in March under pressure from the White House and lawmakers, following allegations that he broke the law and was a dysfunctional leader. An investigation is looking into those allegations.

Despite the friendly tone, lawmakers pressed Kulinowski on the challenges the agency faced.

Kulinowski vowed to continue that probe if confirmed and said she would help return the beleaguered agency's focus.

"The knowledge that many major accidents could have been prevented drives me to continue to work in this area," she said. 

In a lighter moment, Kulinowski pointed out her husband and daughters in the audience. Committee Chairman Jim InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeLobbying World GOP chairman after Africa trip: US military drawdown would have 'real and lasting negative consequences' Overnight Energy: Controversial Trump adviser reportedly returning to EPA | Delta aims to be first carbon neutral airline | Dem senator gives EPA D-minus on 'forever chemicals' MORE (R-Okla.) said, "Have your daughters stand up. They’re cute,” leading to laughter as her family briefly stood.

Kulinowski has been a research staff member of the Science and Technology Policy Institute since 2011. She holds a doctorate in Chemistry and is an adjust assistant professor at Rice University. 

If confirmed, she would serve a five-year term.

This story was updated on July 16 at 12:32 p.m.