Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), a leading Capitol Hill critic of the EPA, fired an early warning shot on Thursday, suggesting that Jackson’s replacement should change the agency's direction.
“Although I take a skeptical view, this appointment would provide this administration an opportunity to change its regulatory course,” Inhofe said in a statement.While the heads of Obama’s energy and environmental team initially won Senate approval in 2009, nominees to a number of senior positions in more recent years have faced a bumpy road and procedural blockades.
Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), who will replace Inhofe as the top Republican on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, said Thursday that he wished Jackson the best. But he added that during her tenure, EPA has been “stifling” the economy.
“Moving forward I’ll be working with my colleagues in the Senate to make sure the new nominee is thoroughly vetted, puts sound scientific standards above political ideology and understands that EPA’s avalanche of regulations can crush the growth of American businesses,” he said in a statement.
It's going to be a long slog for whomever gets the nod, the smart money is on current deputy Robert Perciasepe, who the White House says will become acting chief in case nobody is confirmed by the time Jackson leaves, i.e. Republicans block any action on the nomination in committee, an absolute certainty.
Let's not forget in addition to real winners like Inhofe and Vitter, the Committee is infested with anti-science GOP dipsticks like Wyoming's John Barrasso, who has repeatedly tried to block the EPA from enforcing any air or water pollution rules at all, Idaho's Mike Crapo, who has tried to block EPA regulations on animal waste from big farm producers and meat factory farms, and Alabama's Jeff Sessions, who is "offended" by climate scientists actually practicing science.
So yeah, expect to see "acting EPA head" in the news for a long time.