Scott Pruitt confirmed to head EPA in near-partisan vote

Megan Geuss

Dems won when a judge ordered trove of Pruitt e-mails released, but it didn’t last.

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 20: Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, President Donald Trump's nominee to head the Environmental Protection Agency, arrives for the Inaugural Luncheon in the US Capitol January 20, 2017 in Washington, DC. President Donald Trump is attending the luncheon along with other dignitaries after being sworn in as the 45th President of the United States.
Photo by Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images
On Friday, the Republican-controlled Senate voted 52 to 46 to confirm Oklahoma Attorney General (AG) Scott Pruitt to head the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), despite fierce opposition from many Democrats and environmental groups. Two Democrats from fossil fuel-rich states broke with their party to vote for Pruitt: Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Joe Manchin III of West Virginia. One Republican, Susan Collins, of Maine, voted against Pruitt.
Democrat Joe Donnelly from Indiana and Republican John McCain from Arizona didn’t vote.
In his January confirmation hearing, Pruitt admitted that he believes the climate is warming, although he refused to take a definitive stance on whether he believed the warming climate is mostly anthropogenic in nature. Pruitt also said he would look to EPA counsel on whether he must recuse himself from lawsuits he still has pending against the EPA.
Pruitt’s confirmation vote came after an all-night session in which Democrats on the Senate floor demanded that Republican Majority Leader Senator Mitch McConnell delay the vote until Tuesday. Pruitt has been ordered by a court to release 3,000 e-mails “related to his communications with the fossil fuel industry,” according to The New York Times. Democrats wanted a chance to sift through those e-mails before the vote was called, but McConnell denied the request.
In his confirmation hearing, Pruitt expressed a desire to let states rule on environmental protections. President Donald Trump, who nominated Pruitt, has called climate change a hoax and said he would undo the Clean Power Plan and back out of the Paris Agreement. A recent House Science Committee hearing suggested changes to the EPA, including changing the EPA’s Science Advisory Board to include more people critical of climate science, as well as changing the way the EPA assesses health risks from chemicals in setting pollution standards.
Pruitt is likely to see internal pushback at the EPA as he assumes his position as the agency's head. Yesterday, The New York Times reported that, in an unusual move, employees of the EPA had been calling senators to urge them to vote against Pruitt.
But Pruitt will have the support of the president, who is expected to sign an Executive Order "scaling back Obama-era climate change initiatives and shaking up the Environmental Protection Agency," around the time he visits the EPA headquarters for Pruitt's swearing-in, according to reports from earlier this week.
Scott Pruitt confirmed to head EPA in near-partisan vote Reviewed by Bizpodia on 14:56 Rating: 5

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