Energy & Environment

Green groups push Senate to confirm EPA enforcement chief

FILE – Steam billows from a coal-fired power plant Nov. 18, 2021, in Craig, Colo. The Supreme Court on Thursday, June 30, 2022, limited how the nation’s main anti-air pollution law can be used to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. By a 6-3 vote, with conservatives in the majority, the court said that the Clean Air Act does not give the Environmental Protection Agency broad authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from power plants that contribute to global warming. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)

Environmental groups are pushing for the confirmation of a leader for the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) enforcement team, arguing that filling the vacancy will help mitigate climate change.

In a statement issued on Monday, leaders from the Environmental Defense Fund, Earthjustice, the League of Conservation Voters, the National Wildlife Federation and the Natural Resources Defense Council called on the Senate to prioritize the confirmation of David Uhlmann to be the EPA’s enforcement chief. 

“As leaders of the largest environmental groups in the United States, we join together to urge the United States Senate to prioritize floor time to confirm David M. Uhlmann to serve as the Assistant Administrator for Enforcement and Compliance Assurance at EPA,” they said.

The leaders of the groups also invoked climate change, saying that confirming Uhlmann will enable the agency to better enforce existing climate rules after the Supreme Court recently took away a major regulatory tool to prevent power plant emissions.

“His confirmation also will allow EPA to increase its efforts to enforce existing climate regulations, an immediate step that the Senate can take in the aftermath of last week’s Supreme Court decision in West Virginia v. EPA curtailing the Agency’s ability to address climate change,” said the statement, which was first reported by The Washington Post.

The Hill reported late last year that in fiscal 2021, the EPA referred its lowest number of criminal cases to the Justice Department in decades. 

At the time, advocates called for more investigators, arguing that having more cops patrolling the environment prevents environmental misconduct and holds polluting companies accountable for wrongdoing. 

Meanwhile, senators are also working on a reconciliation deal that could spur major investments in clean energy and combating climate change if they can get the entire caucus on board. 

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