- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell announced his opposition on Wednesday to President Biden’s nominees to helm the Interior Department and the Environmental Protection Agency.

Speaking from the floor of the U.S. Senate, Mr. McConnell made his intention clear after weeks of speculation. The minority leader, in particular, argued that both nominees had earned his opposition because they would put progressive environmental priorities ahead of jobs. 

“They both report straight to the front lines of the new administration’s left-wing war on American energy,” said Mr. McConnell, a Republican from the coal state of Kentucky. “They worked to unbalance the balancing act between conservation and the economic comeback we badly need.”

Michael Regan, the Biden administration’s nomination for EPA administrator, while qualified for the post is likely to push the same regulatory agenda from the Obama era, according to the minority leader. Mr. McConnell said he was concerned that Mr. Regan will use the agency’s powers to force states to curb carbon emissions wherever possible, a move that is likely to adversely impact the coal-centered economy of eastern Kentucky. 

“Kentuckians know when bad policies like those are on the table,” Mr. McConnell said. “It means their jobs, their livelihoods and their communities are on the menu.”

Rep. Deb Haaland, the White House pick for Interior secretary, meanwhile, has earned the minority leader’s opposition because of her long-standing support for the Green New Deal and hostility to any “new fossil fuel infrastructure.” Ms. Haaland, a Democratic congresswoman from New Mexico, has also drawn the ire of Republicans for her pledge to support a drilling ban on federal lands. 

“Her record and her views ignore the fact that American energy independence fueled prosperity for the working class and middle class over the last four years … [while simultaneously] our carbon emissions went down.” Mr. McConnell said. 

Mr. McConnell added that the “supposed choice between a clean environment and domestic energy independence was a false” dichotomy that only existed “in the minds of Democrats.” 

The remarks came as Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, New York Democrat, has signaled that he will push forward with confirmation votes for Mr. Regan and Ms. Haaland this week. 

• Haris Alic can be reached at halic@washingtontimes.com.

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