Amid controversy, Pruitt confirmed as US EPA administrator

By Anna Simet and Ron Kotrba | February 17, 2017

In a 54-46 vote, Scott Pruitt has been confirmed by the U.S. Senate as administrator of the U.S. EPA. President Donald J. Trump nominated Pruitt—arguably the most controversial of Trump’s cabinet nominees—as EPA administrator in early December. Pruitt was attorney general of Oklahoma since November 2010. Prior to that, he served eight years in the Oklahoma senate.

Pruitt has been designated a climate change denier by the environmental community, has fought implementation of the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, and has been a staunch critic of the EPA.

“Pruitt has a long record of ignoring science, assaulting public health safeguards, and holding the agency he now leads in contempt,” said Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune. “We are deeply disappointed in the senators who backed Pruitt. They are elected to represent their constituents’ best interests, but instead voted to protect corporate greed. This is a vote that should not even have happened, given the unanswered questions about Pruitt's hidden emails with fossil fuel companies that a judge has ordered to be released next week.”

During a Jan. 18 hearing with U.S. Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works, Pruitt said the EPA serves a critical mission in promoting and protecting a strong and healthy environment, but claimed it “became dissatisfied with the tools Congress has given it to address certain issues, and bootstrapped its own powers and tools through rulemaking.”

Craig E. Richardson, president of the Energy & Environment Legal Institute, welcomed Pruitt’s confirmation. “Under a reformed EPA, Americans will see much-needed balance returned to an agency that has moved well beyond its Constitutional authority and imposed costly, unnecessary job-killing regulations on American businesses and workers, and created skyrocketing electricity costs for our families.”

As administrator, Pruitt said he would work to ensure the EPA has a cooperative and collaborative relationship with Congress in fulfilling its intent.

Also during the hearing, Pruitt expressed general support of biofuels and the renewable fuel standard (RFS). Read some of his comments here.

“We look forward to working with Mr. Pruitt and the EPA as they continue to carry out the RFS as enacted by a bipartisan Congress,” said Anne Steckel, the vice president of federal affairs at the National Biodiesel Board. “The RFS is working as intended to deliver jobs and American-made energy, a major point of emphasis of the Trump administration. American-made biodiesel continues to be the fastest growing advanced biofuel in the country and a large portion of that success can be attributed to the success of the RFS.”



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