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Giles Confirmation Hearing Underway

The Ocean State's latest bid for a little love from Washington is underway. The US Senate's Environment and Public Works Committee is conducting a hearing this morning on the nomination of Cynthia Giles for the top enforcement post at the Environmental Protection Agency.

Giles, beloved by our own Phillipe and Jorge, is the director of the Conservation Law Foundation's Rhode Island Advocacy Center.

Here's the text of Giles' opening statement, courtesy of US Senator Sheldon Whitehouse's office:

I would first like to take the opportunity to thank you, and Ranking Member Inhofe, for holding this hearing, and Senator Whitehouse for his kind introduction.

 

If I may I would like to introduce my family.  My husband, Carl Bogus, is here.  Our three children, Beth, Ian and Zoe, unfortunately were not able to attend.  And two of my sisters, Marilyn and Andrea, are also here with me today.

 

I am honored to be nominated to assist Administrator Jackson in the vital mission of the Environmental Protection Agency and I thank her and President Obama for offering me this opportunity to serve.

 

I have had the privilege of being a public servant both with state government and the federal government, including EPA.  I served as an Assistant United States Attorney in Philadelphia, where I represented the United States in suits to enforce federal environmental laws.  And I served in several positions within EPA Region 3, managing programs, lawyers and the EPA enforcement program for five states and the District of Columbia.  After moving to New England, I served as the head of the water program in the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection.   

 

I have also worked in the private sector, in a non-profit environmental advocacy organization, and even a brief stint in academia, teaching environmental law.  In today’s parlance, I’ve been a .com, .org, .edu and .gov.

 

Over the course of my 30 year career in environmental law and policy I have worked in just about every major area of environmental protection, including clean air and climate change, RCRA and superfund, clean drinking and surface waters, groundwater protection, wetlands, TSCA and others.  I understand that compliance with the law is essential to secure the public benefits that the laws are designed to achieve.

 

President Obama and Administrator Jackson have said repeatedly that the core values of EPA are scientific integrity and the rule of law.  Enforcement is part of the commitment to the rule of law.  It is part of our commitment to the people who expect the protections of clean air and water wherever they may live.  And it is part of our commitment to businesses that should not be at a competitive disadvantage when they take seriously their responsibilities to obey the law and to respect their neighbors.  

 

Scientific integrity must also be a guiding principal for enforcement.  As we pursue compliance, we must look at and be guided by the facts, and make sure that we are addressing the biggest environmental and public health problems.  And we need to be particularly mindful of our obligation to protect those disproportionately affected by pollution.

 

Responsible stewardship of our air and water is a necessary part of our economic vitality.  Indeed, responsible stewards of businesses rely on EPA and the states to protect businesses by making sure everyone plays by the same rules.  Especially now, the business community will be counting on EPA to make sure there is a level playing field, and that we are pragmatic and use common sense in achieving that goal.

 

In seeking to ensure compliance with the laws passed by Congress, EPA of course works closely with the states.  States have the majority of inspectors and enforcement staff and states have the local knowledge that helps to ensure that we are as efficient and effective as possible in enforcing the law.  In this task EPA and the states are partners, at the same time that EPA needs to make sure that the guarantees of clean air and water are shared equally by all.

 

The Administrator has outlined five key goals for EPA: reducing greenhouse gas emissions, improving air quality, managing chemical risks, cleaning up hazardous waste sites, and protecting water.  The enforcement and compliance office of EPA will be part of achieving all of these goals, by assuring that we enforce the law and achieve compliance with programs to tackle these critical problems.

 

I affirm my personal commitment to as much transparency and openness in the operations of the enforcement office as possible.  Not only should citizens know what their government is doing, but an informed citizenry is also an excellent ally in creating pressure for better compliance. 

 

President Obama and Administrator Jackson have pledged that under their watch the environmental cop will be back on the beat.  I stand ready to work with the capable and dedicated staff of the enforcement office to carry out that pledge.

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