Capito grills EPA nominee on '#ResistCapitalism' tweet

Capito grills EPA nominee on '#ResistCapitalism' tweet
© Greg Nash

Sen. Shelley Moore CapitoShelley Wellons Moore CapitoBiden's soft touch with Manchin, Sinema frustrates Democrats The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - After high drama, Senate lifts debt limit Here are the 11 GOP senators who helped advance the debt extension MORE (W.Va.), the top Republican on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, on Wednesday questioned President BidenJoe BidenGrant Woods, longtime friend of McCain and former Arizona AG, dies at 67 Sanders on Medicare expansion in spending package: 'Its not coming out' Glasgow summit raises stakes for Biden deal MORE’s nominee to oversee Superfund cleanup about a six-year-old tweet containing an exhortation to "#ResistCapitalism.

Carlton Waterhouse, Biden’s nominee for assistant administrator for the Office of Land and Emergency Management at the Environmental Protection Agency, was one of three nominees who came before the committee Wednesday. Capito raised the 2015 tweet during her allotted time for questioning.

“You said, ‘The ugly truth about energy. The ends don’t justify the means.’ And then you hashtagged a bunch of things, one of which was #ResistCapitalism,” Capito asked Waterhouse. “You are going to be dealing in your position with a lot of private entities. ... What does ‘resist capitalism’ mean to you and how would that interplay with what you would be doing? What does it mean when you say energy ends don’t justify the means?”

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Waterhouse responded that he did not recall the context of the tweet, which quoted another user’s tweet that has since been deleted.

“I recognize the value of capitalism as a way of making sure goods and services are made available to people, and I think reasonable and responsible regulation allows us to make sure people can be safe and protected in the environment in their daily lives,” he said.

Waterhouse has worked in the EPA’s Office of Land and Emergency Management since February. Prior to his work there, he has frequently spoken and written about the disproportionate impact of pollution on Black Americans and called for reparations for the descendants of slaves.

Conservative organizations and Republican lawmakers have sharply criticized him for that advocacy, including Sen. Tom CottonTom Bryant CottonIs the Navy totally at sea? The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Altria - House debt vote today; Biden struggles to unite Arkansas legislature splits Little Rock in move that guarantees GOP seats MORE (R-Ark.), who has called him an “extremist.” They have in particular pointed to a 2006 paper in which he wrote that civil rights legislation in the 1960s and '70s did not do enough to remedy racial discrimination, because it did not compensate the victims of discrimination that took place before it became law.

Mustafa Santiago Ali, who led the EPA’s Office of Environmental Justice under former President ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaGlasgow summit raises stakes for Biden deal Obama gives fiery speech for McAuliffe: 'Don't sit this one out' Obama looks to give new momentum to McAuliffe MORE, defended Waterhouse’s record on environmental justice, telling The Hill, “Carlton Waterhouse’s amazing work to protect vulnerable communities is in step with many of our great leaders who fought for civil rights and social justice.”

Waterhouse, Ali told The Hill in a Twitter message, is committed to “unpacking the uncomfortable truths and working to find authentic solutions,” quoting the acclaimed writer James Baldwin: “If I love you I have to make you conscious of the things you don’t see.”

Waterhouse has said the criticism from the right is a “distortion” of his work, telling BuzzFeed News this week that it “just misrepresent[s] really what I've fought for and the kinds of things that I've been advocating for.”

Senate Republicans have applied pressure to earlier Biden nominees for both their social media use and their history on environmental issues.

Former Center for American Progress head Neera TandenNeera TandenThe Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Altria - Pfizer announces vaccine study ahead of FDA meeting Neera Tanden tapped as White House staff secretary Capito grills EPA nominee on '#ResistCapitalism' tweet MORE withdrew her name from consideration as White House budget chief over her Twitter usage. Meanwhile, every Republican on the committee and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellBiden says he's open to altering, eliminating filibuster to advance voting rights Pelosi says GOP senators 'voted to aid and abet' voter suppression for blocking revised elections bill Manchin insists he hasn't threatened to leave Democrats MORE (R-Ky.) have urged the withdrawal of Tracy Stone-Manning to lead the Bureau of Land Management, citing her involvement in a “tree-spiking” case.