Dionne Delli-Gatti, NCDEQ Secretary Nominee
Senate Committee Rejects Delli-Gatti Nomination as DEQ Secretary
June 2, 2021
At their June 2, 2021 meeting, the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Energy, and Environment voted to reject Governor Cooper’s nominee to head the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). The Committee vote was along party lines and Senate Democrats who spoke in opposition to the proceedings walked out as the vote was being taken.
The committee meeting was short and tense. Democrats on the committee wanted the nominee to have an opportunity to respond to Republican concerns before voting on the confirmation. Republicans said the hearing portion of the confirmation process was already accomplished and no one had any outstanding questions at the time.
Frustrations surfaced early in the discussions. Sen. Mike Woodard (D) wanted committee chair Sen. Chuck Edwards (R) to address the nominee by her title of Secretary Delli-Gatti because she has been sworn in. Sen. Edwards chose to call her Ms. Delle-Gatti because she has not been confirmed. Republicans and Democrats continued using their preferred titles in later public statements.
NC Senate Leader Phil Berger’s official Medium account posted a press release saying that Ms. Delli-Gatti spent weeks meeting with individual senators and had a multi-hour confirmation hearing last month during which she could not articulate the Cooper Administration’s natural gas strategy. Sen. Berger’s press release also noted that 48 hours after that hearing, her agency rejected a major pipeline about which she was uninformed.
Governor Cooper responded to the Senate committee’s rejection of his nominee saying, “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.”
The full Senate is expected to vote Thursday, June 3.