Chairman Carper’s Opening Statement: Hearing for U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Nominee

WASHINGTON, D.C. Today, the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works held a hearing to consider the nomination of Martha Williams to be Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Below is the opening statement of Chairman Tom Carper (D-Del.), as prepared for delivery:

“Good morning, everyone. I am pleased to call this hearing to order.

“Today, we will hear from Martha Williams, President Biden’s nominee to serve as Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

“Ms. Williams, it’s good to see you again. Thank you for joining us to discuss your vision for this important role and to field questions from members of this committee.

“As our nation’s oldest federal conservation agency, the Fish and Wildlife Service has the responsibility of enforcing our wildlife protection laws, restoring habitat, and preserving public lands for future generations. These are tall orders, especially given the current and future biodiversity challenges we face.

“A recent report by the United Nations shows that nearly one million species may be pushed to the brink of extinction in the years ahead—let me repeat that—one million species could face extinction in the years ahead if we do not act.

“That alarming number is a dire warning for all of us to do our part to protect our planet and all of God’s creations that inhabit it. The report also underscores the importance of having a dedicated, results-driven leader at the Fish and Wildlife Service who brings people together to tackle challenges.

“I am confident that Ms. Williams is that kind of leader. As the current Principal Deputy Director of the Service, she has a clear understanding of the inner workings of the agency. And her experience is not limited to working at the federal level. Prior to her current role, she served as the Director of the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks.

“Throughout her career, Ms. Williams has cultivated deep respect from those with whom she has worked on conservation efforts. That is probably why her nomination enjoys such broad support amongst the environmental and sportsmen communities—from Ducks Unlimited to the National Wildlife Federation to Earthjustice. Many of our nation’s foremost conservationists—our hunters, anglers, and wildlife enthusiasts—strongly support her nomination for this role.

“Ms. Williams grew up on a farm and has spent her life and career fostering a love of the outdoors and a commitment to protecting our precious natural resources.

“Last month, I had the distinct pleasure of hosting her in Delaware as we toured Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge with Assistant Secretary Estenoz. As she heard me say then, we are incredibly proud of our two national wildlife refuges in the First State—Prime Hook and Bombay Hook.

“In addition to being home to threatened and endangered migratory bird species, such as the red knot and piping plover, our wildlife refuges attract thousands of visitors each year. These visitors drive a booming ecotourism industry in Delaware.

“Unfortunately, these special places are also vulnerable to rising sea levels and worsening storms. In 2012, Superstorm Sandy hit the First State and wreaked havoc on our coastal communities, including Prime Hook.

“Using relief funds provided by Congress, the Fish and Wildlife Service engaged in a large-scale project to restore approximately 4,000 acres of tidal marsh. This restoration project benefited wildlife and the surrounding community—a true win-win.

“It’s also an example of the Fish and Wildlife Service’s successful conservation work to adapt to the escalating challenges of a changing climate while making our natural resources more resilient. I’m eager to hear from Ms. Williams about how the Fish and Wildlife Service can build upon this extraordinary model.

“Ms. Williams will have no shortage of essential work ahead of her in this role, should she be confirmed. Our staff and I look forward to partnering with her on this important mission—continuing this Committee’s strong bipartisan track record of working together on wildlife conservation issues.”