GOP Sen. Cassidy says he’s blocking Biden’s EPA nominees

A Republican senator said Wednesday he is taking steps to block President Joe Biden’s nominees to work in the Environmental Protection Agency from moving forward in the Senate.

Louisiana Sen. Bill Cassidy said his stance is a result of “unnecessary delays” in how the EPA is handling Louisiana’s application to obtain the authority to “permit, site and monitor carbon sequestration wells,” according to a news release from the senator’s office.

Cassidy’s news release said Louisiana possesses this right for five of six classes of wells, but not for underground wells.

“The state has worked with the EPA to ensure a thorough and complete application along with a rigorous set of regulations but the application has remained stalled since October,” the release added.

Reuters reported that Wyoming and North Dakota have already received similar authorization for underground, carbon dioxide-storing wells.

“Advocates of carbon capture and storage (CCS) support it as a way of lowering carbon dioxide emissions in the atmosphere. The technique involves isolating the gas at power plants and other fossil fuel facilities and storing it underground,” the outlet added.

In a statement, Cassidy said Louisiana is ready to move forward when it comes to these wells, but that the Biden administration is standing in the way.

“Louisiana is the ideal location to store carbon underground and lower emissions. We have met the requirements and we have the workers, capacity and resources to begin this process,” he said.

“All that’s needed is the green light from the Biden administration,” the statement continued. “The EPA has emphasized their desire to lower emissions and ensure a healthy environment yet hinders Louisiana’s ability to do just that.”

Cassidy’s office linked the approvals Louisiana is seeking to the senator’s support of an infrastructure package Biden signed into law last year.

“If state-based permitting is achieved, Louisiana Department of Natural Resources will be able to more thoroughly and quickly analyze applications for carbon storage than the EPA due to the greater number of engineers focused on the issue at the state-level than at the EPA regional office,” the release said.

“This is a key step to realizing the potential of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill that provides over $12 billion for industrial decarbonization, carbon capture, and hydrogen developed from natural gas and an additional $5 billion for carbon pipelines.”

According to Reuters, four Biden EPA nominees are waiting to be confirmed in the Senate: “Amanda Howe in mission support, Chris Fey for research head, Carlton Waterhouse in charge of waste and David Uhlmann for enforcement and compliance.”

Cassidy said he had discussed the issue with EPA Administrator Michael Regan, and the EPA said in a statement it was aware of the senator’s stance.

“EPA is aware of the Senator’s request and will respond through the proper channels,” an agency spokesperson told The Hill.