Pruitt Confirmed as New Head of EPA

Feb 17, 2017

Credit C-SPAN

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt has been confirmed as President Donald Trump's new head of the Environmental Protection Agency.

Pruitt was confirmed by a 52–46 vote. Senate Democrats failed in their effort to delay the confirmation vote until Feb. 27 in order to review roughly 3,000 emails a judge recently ordered released between his office and coal, oil and gas companies.

"Thomas Jefferson used to say, 'If the people know the truth, they will not make a mistake.' We're prepared to vote here with incomplete information, without the kind of wisdom that we could have and vote with behind us if we would wait 10 days," said Delaware Sen. Tom Carper.

Minority Leader Chuck Schumer was puzzled why Republicans would not allow time to review the emails, which would have pushed Pruitt’s confirmation to 81 days after his nomination.

"The same group in 2013 made Gina McCarthy wait 122 days to be confirmed for EPA administrator because she wasn't honoring a commitment, they felt, to transparency," Schumer said.

Senate Republicans accused Democrats of attempting to needlessly delay Pruitt's confirmation. Wyoming Senator John Barrasso suggested that came down to sour grapes. Minnesota Democrat Al Franken said that wasn't the case.

"We have a nominee here who has sued the EPA 18 times, and the reason we're doing this is we don't think this nominee is qualified," Franken said. "It has nothing to do with us not recognizing the result of the election."

Democrats also said Pruitt hadn't satisfactorily answered questions Democrats sent ahead of his confirmation hearings and they maintained reservations about Pruitt's stances on climate change and his various active lawsuits against the EPA.

The vote was not totally along party lines. West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin and North Dakota Democrat Heidi Heitkamp crossed the aisle to vote in favor of Pruitt.

Pruitt's confirmation was well-received by Oklahoma business organizations. The Tulsa Regional Chamber and the Oklahoma State Chamber of Commerce issued statements congratulating Pruitt.