After 16 Consecutive Confirmations, N.C. Senate Rejects a Cooper Cabinet Nominee

Cooper DEQ nominee could not answer basic questions about state’s “number one vulnerability” during lengthy confirmation hearing, which senators consider disqualifying

Raleigh, N.C. — After confirming 16 consecutive cabinet nominees over the past five years, the N.C. Senate today voted not to confirm Dionne Delli-Gatti to lead the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ).

Ms. Delli-Gatti met individually with senators over many weeks and answered questions from senators during a multi-hour confirmation hearing.

During her confirmation hearing, Ms. Delli-Gatti could not answer basic questions about what experts have called the state’s “number one vulnerability”: reliance on a single pipeline for the state’s entire natural gas supply.

Democrats have asked for a do-over hearing for Ms. Delli-Gatti. Sen. Rules Chairman Bill Rabon said, “There are no mulligans in confirmation hearings. The nominee does not get a do-over just because she demonstrated a lack of knowledge on key issues during the first go-around.”

When asked during her confirmation hearing, “Do you know what the Governor’s position is on the expansion of natural gas in North Carolina?” Delli-Gatti answered, “No I do not.”

When asked about the proposed MVP-Southgate pipeline, which is the most important infrastructure project in the state and one her own agency is tasked with reviewing, Ms. Delli-Gatti admitted to the senators that she has only “a little bit of knowledge on it, and I have some briefing materials on it.”

Sen. Norm Sanderson (R-Pamlico) said, “North Carolina’s future, not to mention lights, heat, and air conditioning in millions of homes, is at risk because of the state’s full reliance on a single natural gas pipeline. Ms. Delli-Gatti could not articulate the Cooper Administration’s natural gas strategy, which she would presumably lead or at least be heavily involved in, nor was she informed about a major pipeline that her own agency rejected 48 hours later. Given the importance of this issue, that’s disqualifying.”

Sen. Paul Newton (R-Cabarrus) said, “Our objection to Ms. Delli-Gatti isn’t over her views on a natural gas strategy or a proposed pipeline — it’s the fact that she was unable to articulate any views whatsoever.”

With today’s vote, Ms. Delli-Gatti can no longer lead DEQ. Gov. Cooper will need to identify a new nominee for Senate confirmation.

Read here for more background on the Senate’s objections to Ms. Delli-Gatti.

Press releases from N.C. Senate Republicans and Senate Leader Phil Berger