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Senate committee advances two Biden environment nominees

Senate committee advances two Biden environment nominees
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The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee voted Wednesday to advance two of President BidenJoe BidenGraham: 'I could not disagree more' with Trump support of Afghanistan troop withdrawal Obama, Shaquille O'Neal, Charles Barkley team up to urge communities of color to get coronavirus vaccine Biden to hold second meeting with bipartisan lawmakers on infrastructure MORE’s key environmental nominees to the full Senate. 

The panel approved Brenda MalloryBrenda MalloryOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Senate confirms Mallory to lead White House environment council | US emissions dropped 1.7 percent in 2019 | Interior further delays Trump rule that would make drillers pay less to feds Senate confirms Biden's pick to lead White House environmental council The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Tax March - US vaccine effort takes hit with Johnson & Johnson pause MORE, nominated to chair the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), as well as deputy Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator nominee Janet McCabe by 11-9 votes. 

Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamGraham: 'I could not disagree more' with Trump support of Afghanistan troop withdrawal Wall Street spent .9B on campaigns, lobbying in 2020 election: study Biden aide: Ability to collect daily intel in Afghanistan 'will diminish' MORE (R-S.C.) joined Democrats in supporting Mallory’s nomination, and Sen. Roger WickerRoger Frederick WickerBiden looks to bolster long-term research and development McCarthy and Biden haven't spoken since election Instagram sparks new concerns over 'kidfluencer' culture MORE (R-Miss.) voted with Democrats to support McCabe. 

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The nominations will now need to be approved by the full Senate. 

If she’s confirmed, Mallory will lead a White House office that’s in charge of the implementation of a bedrock environmental law called the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), which requires environmental analyses ahead of projects such as pipelines, highways and drilling on public lands. 

Mallory, who was CEQ’s top lawyer during the Obama administration, may take action to reverse the Trump administration’s rollbacks to protections provided under NEPA, as the ex-president sought to reduce the amount of time that environmental reviews under the law take and remove requirements to consider climate change impacts. 

“It not only has to create an opportunity for there to be a full, robust analysis of the impacts on major projects, it has to create an opportunity for there to be a way for citizens and the community to engage. But, it also has to be done in a way that ensures that we have significant infrastructure projects and that economic recovery which is based on those projects can occur,” she said of the law during her confirmation hearing. 

Mallory, who would be the first Black CEQ chair, would also be tasked with advising the president on issues such as environmental justice, public lands and wildlife conservation. 

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Mallory’s supporters emphasized that she’ll work to protect the environment. 

“I’m confident that Ms. Mallory will ensure that bedrock protection for [the] National Environmental Policy Act are being fairly and adequately deployed to safeguard clean air and water throughout our country,” said Sen. Tom CarperThomas (Tom) Richard CarperOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Senate confirms Mallory to lead White House environment council | US emissions dropped 1.7 percent in 2019 | Interior further delays Trump rule that would make drillers pay less to feds Key Democrat says traveler fees should fund infrastructure projects Senate confirms Biden's pick to lead White House environmental council MORE (D-Del.), the committee's chairman. 

Her opponents, however, raised concerns that she could work to slow construction projects. 

“Ms. Mallory has stood against the long-overdue reforms of environmental reviews under the National Environmental Policy Act,” said Sen. Shelly Moore Capito (R-W.Va.). “If we want to ‘build back better,’ we have to be able to actually build.” 

McCabe, meanwhile, was formerly the top official in the EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation, where she worked on the Clean Power Plan, a rule that sought to reduce carbon pollution from power plants. 

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Capito, the panel's top Republican, cited McCabe’s work on that regulation in her opposition to the nominee. 

“As the architect of the Clean Power Plan, Ms. McCabe has not shied away from her support for this overreaching policy,” Capito said.  

Carper cited the same experience in his support.

“It would be hard pressed to find many others with Ms. McCabe’s level of experience and understanding of the inner workings of this agency,” he said.