Lummis Blocks Biden’s Pick For EPA Enforcement Chief Over Power Plant

U.S. Rep. Cynthia Lummis stalled confirmation of President Joe Biden's choice to enforce federal environmental rules due to the agency's handling of coal power plants in Wyoming.

Ellen Fike

January 14, 20223 min read

Lummis senate floor

U.S. Rep. Cynthia Lummis has stalled confirmation of President Joe Biden’s choice to enforce federal environmental rules due to the agency’s handling of coal power plants in Wyoming.

Lummis’ office confirmed that the Republican on Wednesday removed from the agenda of a Senate committee a confirmation vote for a nominee to serve as assistant administrator for enforcement and compliance assurance at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee had been scheduled Wednesday to take a confirmation vote on the appointment of David Uhlmann to the post, according to energy news outlet E&E News.

But committee Chair U.S. Sen. Tom Carper, D-Delaware, announced at the start of the meeting that Uhlmann’s nomination had been pulled from the agenda. He said an unnamed senator was waiting for information from the agency before considering whether to support Uhlmann.

Lummis’ office confirmed she had asked that the vote be postponed.

According to the outlet, Lummis was waiting to hear from EPA about whether Wyoming’s regional plan for managing haze in the area of the Jim Bridger power plant near Rock Springs would be approved.

The state and federal governments in 2020 had agreed to a regional haze program that would allow the plant to continue operating, but after President Joe Biden took office, the EPA reversed its decision and ordered the plant to comply with rules previously in place.

The federal haze program seeks to reduce pollution to increase visibility, which has proved troublesome for the southeastern Wyoming power plant.

After Wednesday’s meeting ended, EPA released a decision saying it would reject Wyoming’s haze management plan for the power plant.

“The EPA’s decision today is a complete reversal from that of career EPA employees during the previous administration,” Lummis said after the rejection. “The Biden EPA’s decision here is needlessly hurting Wyoming’s energy workers and threatening America’s energy independence as well.

“It is blatantly political, and I will continue to block President Biden’s EPA nominees over this issue,” she continued. “Wyoming has worked tirelessly to comply with federal law on its regional haze plan for the Jim Bridger Power Plant. The Biden administration’s decision to reverse course to appease environmental activists, including climate czars in the White House, will not help the people, or the environment, of Wyoming.”

The committee did advance other nominees at Wednesday’s meeting, including Martha Williams, Biden’s pick for Fish and Wildlife Service director, and Chris Frey, tapped to lead the EPA’s science office.

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Ellen Fike