NC Senate says NCDEQ nominee doesn’t have confirmation votes

Senate Leader Phil Berger (R-Eden) speaks from the Press Room at the N.C. General Assembly. File photo

RALEIGH – The N.C. Senate on Wednesday held a press conference announcing that Gov. Roy Cooper’s choice to lead the N.C. Dept. of Environmental Quality, Dionne Delli-Gatti, did not have support to be confirmed for the role.

Senate Leader Phil Berger (R-Eden) and state Sen. Paul Newton (R-Cabarrus) spoke at Wednesday’s event, outlining their concerns over Delli-Gatti’s answers to questions regarding the state’s natural gas pipeline and the Cooper administration’s energy strategy.

Berger said he informed Gov. Cooper on Tuesday of where the nomination stood, and that she could either withdraw from the confirmation process or Cooper could name a new nominee. Delli-Gatti has been the acting secretary since Michael Regan was confirmed by the U.S. Senate to head the Environmental Protection Agency.

“This decision goes beyond basic policy differences,” Berger said. “When asked about Cooper admin strategy, she said she didn’t know. When asked if she was familiar with the most important process, she said she knew little about it and had briefing materials.”

Newton added, “That Ms. Delli-Gatti had only cursory knowledge of the single most important infrastructure project in North Carolina, and one her own agency is tasked with reviewing, is disqualifying.”

In response to the Senate’s announcement, Gov. Cooper’s communications director, Ford Porter, took to Twitter to blast Senate Republicans.

“Sec. Delli Gatti is eminently qualified to run DEQ. This has nothing to do with pipelines and Republican excuses for voting her down are a red herring to prevent her from protecting clean air and water and holding utilities accountable while they negotiate a secret energy bill,” he wrote.

Later, he also tweeted, “Pretty extraordinary that after Senate GOP spends months negotiating secret bill w/ energy lobbyists @SenatorBerger wants you to buy the line “this woman doesn’t know what she’s talking about. Now hear from our former utility executive who has thoughts on more pipelines! Absurd.”

This is a developing story and will be updated.