Remarks: Testimony as Prepared for Delivery by CEQ Chair Brenda Mallory
Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works
Chair Mallory’s testimony, as prepared for delivery, follows:
Chairman Carper, Ranking Member Capito, and members of the Committee—I appreciate the opportunity to appear before you today.
Last month marked one year since I was confirmed by this body.
Since then, my staff and I have been working on behalf of President Biden and the American people to find common sense solutions to the environmental challenges that families face in their daily lives.
I have been fortunate to meet with a number of you to understand your priorities, so that we can work together to deliver cleaner air, water, and lands to the American people.
Serving in this role is an honor and I am grateful to the President— and to you—for placing your faith in me.
In my travels over the past year, I heard from residents of one of Michigan’s most polluted areas to communities in Delaware, families in New Orleans, and neighbors in Tampa—all of whom live in the shadow of polluting industries.
These communities have been coping—for decades—with toxic pollution in the air they breathe and the water they drink.
President Nixon once said, “Clean air, clean water, open spaces – these should once again be the birthright of every American.”
Indeed, the mission of safeguarding clean air and clean water has long been a shared American value.
This value grounds our work at CEQ.
Every person in this country should be able to expect clean water from their tap or well.
That is not the reality for far too many communities.
Every person in this country should be able to expect that the air they breathe won’t make them sick.
That is also not the reality for far too many communities.
For too long, we have failed to deliver on these basic protections.
That is why our environmental justice work in the Biden-Harris Administration is so important.
While our work is far from over, I am proud of what we have done so far to set the foundation to tackle a legacy of injustice.
Together, with Congress, we have begun the hard work of alleviating the environmental burdens that so many communities experience.
Through unprecedented investments in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law—many of which were unanimously supported by this Committee—we are replacing lead pipes, accelerating Superfund clean-ups, cleaning up abandoned mines and oil wells, and protecting the most vulnerable communities from fires, floods, and storms.
The impacts of these investments are not abstract. They are helping Americans right now.
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is also helping us plan for the future.
Thanks to this historic funding, we are going to be doing a lot of building in the next few years.
From electric vehicle charging infrastructure to wind turbines and solar farms to the transmission that will move this new, clean power.
The question we are grappling with is: how will we build faster and better?
How will we build so that we are protecting communities while growing our clean energy economy at the pace required by the climate crisis?
This morning, we released a Permitting Action Plan that tackles this challenge in four ways.
First, we will set clear timelines for projects to get reviewed and permitted.
Second, we will use public dashboards so that everyone can track where projects stand in the process, including nearby communities.
Third, we will hire more staff in the offices that are doing the hard work of permitting and reviewing.
And fourth, we will use that old saying—measure twice, cut once.
Smart and early design, analysis, and public input saves time by avoiding conflict, litigation, and waste.
I want to close by saying that the investments that President Biden and Congress have made will deliver a cleaner environment for generations to come.
But we also need Congress’s continued help to transition to clean energy at the pace and scale required to meet the challenge of climate change.
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law puts us on the right path, but there is still more work to do.
The clean energy provisions the Senate is considering would help clean up and reduce carbon emissions in the power and transportation sectors, while cutting energy costs for American families.
Thank you for the opportunity to testify today and I welcome any questions you may have.