Pruitt Faces Environment Committee, Agriculture is Optimistic

Pruitt's initial answers were similar to those given by other Trump nominees: he rejected Trump's past description of climate change as "a concept invented by and for the Chinese to make United States manufacturing non-competitive" as incorrect and said, "The climate is changing and human activity contributes to that in some manner".

During Pruitt's day-long nomination hearing January 18, Sen.

Markey remarked, "So you Donald Trump is wrong?"

Pruitt would not commit to recusing himself from active lawsuits he has filed against EPA, saying only that he would recuse himself if directed to do so by EPA ethics counsel. But Trump has said Pruitt will work to restore the EPA's essential mission of keeping air and water clean and safe. He noted that out of seven hundred news releases issued by the Oklahoma Attorney General's office in the last six years, he had been unable to find a single one "describing actions by Mr. Pruitt to enforce environmental laws or penalize polluters". "Otherwise, honestly, people are going to think it's not just the fox guarding the henhouse, it's the fox destroying the henhouse".

Corey Booker (D-NJ) said after bringing up Pruitt's ties to the Oklahoma oil and gas industry, specifically a letter given to him by Devon Energy in 2011 which he copied on official letterhead and submitted to the EPA.

Holcomb said Pruitt's nomination fits the anti-regulatory pattern that Trump has taken with other appointments, like Secretary of Energy nominee and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who during the 2011 primaries famously said he would abolish the Department of Energy while managing to forget its name.

"Clearly there's a discretion to recuse", he said.

The EPA moved to deny the request, but is seeking public comment on the decision.

Pruitt Faces Environment Committee, Agriculture is Optimistic
Pruitt Faces Environment Committee, Agriculture is Optimistic

Pruitt pledged to follow the advice of the counsel. He said the waivers that EPA has already used to set requirements below those targets to accommodate market conditions should be used "judiciously".

Trump and many of his supporters argue their positions will open economic opportunities in energy production while maintaining respect for the environment. Pruitt said there was no connection.

Whitehouse called the fund a "dark money" operation created to advance the fossil fuel agenda. "You're the attorney general".

The Office of Government Ethics cleared Pruitt but admitted January 17 the ethics request does not include political affiliations.

EPA also said it has "grave concerns" about reports from minority neighbors of threats and intimidation against those who have complained. Congress should not only be thanking Pruitt for agreeing to serve, but they should listen to what he has to say about the need to reform the EPA.

While Pruitt acknowledged the role humans and Carbon dioxide play in fueling climate change, he questioned the degree of that influence in statements that are out-of-step with the scientific consensus that such activity is "extremely likely" to be the primary reason for global temperature increases. Sanders then pledged to oppose his nomination.

Pruitt did say that he believes the EPA administrator has "a very important role to perform in regulating CO2", and that there is a legal obligation to do so. The EPW Committee is expected to vote Thursday along party lines, 11 Reps, 10 Dems.

"Mr. Pruitt's remarks today, coupled with President-elect Trump's campaign promises to support the RFS, indicate a clear commitment to ensuring the RFS will not be undermined by the incoming administration", Johnson said in a news release. He took harsh questions from Democrats and garnered praise from Republicans on the Environment and Public Works committee.

  • Archie Newman