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Senate confirms Scott Pruitt as EPA administrator

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    Environmental Protection Agency Administrator nominee, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt testified on Capitol Hill, Jan. 18, in Washington at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

WASHINGTON >> Over the strong objections of environmental groups, the Senate confirmed Scott Pruitt to lead the Environmental Protection Agency today, giving President Donald Trump an eager partner to fulfill his campaign pledge to increase the use of planet-warming fossil fuels.

Pruitt was sworn in later today by Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito.

In six years as Oklahoma’s attorney general, Pruitt filed 14 lawsuits challenging EPA regulations that included limits on carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants. He also sued over the EPA’s recent expansion of water bodies regulated under the Clean Water Act, a federal measure opposed by industries that would be forced to clean up polluted wastewater.

Pruitt submitted his resignation as attorney general to Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin today.

Pruitt’s supporters cheered his confirmation, hailing the 48-year-old Republican lawyer as the ideal pick to roll back environmental regulations they say are a drag on the nation’s economy.

“EPA has made life hard for families all across America,” said Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. “The agency has issued punishing regulations that caused many hardworking Americans to lose their jobs. Mr. Pruitt will bring much needed change.”

The vote was 52-46 as Republican leaders used their party’s narrow Senate majority to push Pruitt’s confirmation despite calls from top Democrats to delay the vote until requested emails are released next week.

Sen. Susan Collins of Maine was the lone Republican vote against Pruitt. Two Democrats from states with economies heavily dependent on fossil fuels crossed party lines to support Trump’s pick, Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota.

During his Senate confirmation hearing last month, Pruitt said he disagreed with Trump’s past statements that global warming is a hoax. However, Pruitt has previously expressed doubt about scientific evidence showing that the planet is heating up and that humans are to blame.

Pruitt’s nomination was vigorously opposed by environmental groups and hundreds of current and former EPA employees, who fear he will preside over massive budget and staff cuts.

“The biologists, scientists, lab technicians, engineers and other civil servants who work at the EPA must be able to do their jobs without political interference or fear of retribution,” said J. David Cox Sr., president of the American Federation of Government Employees, a labor union representing more than 9,000 EPA employees.

Democrats boycotted a committee vote on Pruitt’s nomination last month, citing his refusal to hand over thousands of emails that he exchanged with oil and gas executives. As part of a public records lawsuit, a state judge in Oklahoma on Thursday concluded there was no legal justification for Pruitt’s withholding his correspondence for the past two years. She ordered him to release most of the emails by next week.

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer called for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., to delay Pruitt’s confirmation vote for 10 days. Schumer, of New York, tried to draw a direct line between Pruitt’s withheld emails and last year’s demands from Republicans during the presidential campaign.

“Emails! Remember emails?” Schumer asked on the Senate floor. “‘We should get them out!’ they said about Hillary Clinton. … If they weren’t worried about them, then why rush?”

To dramatize their cause, Democrats kept the Senate in session Thursday night into Friday morning with speeches opposing Pruitt’s confirmation. Democrats were still marching to the floor at daybreak.

In the end, McConnell had the votes. So far, the Senate has confirmed 14 out of 22 Trump Cabinet or Cabinet-level picks requiring confirmation.

Another nominee, billionaire businessman Wilbur Ross, cleared a Senate hurdle on Friday and is on track to win approval to serve as commerce secretary. A final vote is slated for Feb. 27.

Trump has tapped some of the wealthiest Americans to serve in his Cabinet, and ethics reviews have slowed the confirmation process. So have Senate Democrats, who have opposed nominees and forced hours of debate.

Pruitt is closely aligned in his home state with oil and gas companies, whose executives have backed his political campaigns. Though Pruitt ran unopposed for a second term in 2014, public campaign finance reports show he raised more than $700,000, much of it from people in the energy and utility industries.

Environmental groups have already begun hiring additional lawyers to stymie as much of Pruitt’s agenda as possible in court.

“Scott Pruitt is the worst pick ever confirmed to lead the EPA,” said Rhea Suh, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council. “We’ll use every tool in the kit to stop him from harming our air and water, endangering our communities and surrendering our kids to climate catastrophe.”

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    • @ sarge22
      Slowly but surely POTUS Trump is getting it done EVEN w/o the obstructionist DEMS.
      hmmmmm why do we need the DEMS if they are good for nothing?
      Thank you O again for destroying your party.

      • @ adv1
        I read the article…Harward gave his reason why he declined. End of story.

        btw…on the obamacare article…I asked you a question…and you still haven’t answered…why?

      • ad1> I thought that I might make your day. The VAdm Harward said for family reasons he would decline the position. He’s one tough hombre being a Navy SEAL. With that thought in mind, I would suspect that the Mrs had the final say. Why would he want to jump into a cauldron of boiling oil??? Doing so would have cooked his “goose.” Wait for the next star to full Adm then retire out. Makes more sense. Aloha!!!

    • IRT Sarge22, outstanding post for an outstanding confirmation. Hey, did you know that President Trump already signed into law two CRA legislation with two more coming once approved by the Senate? Rolling back and repealing Hawaii born ex-President Obama’s executive regulations. Once the Secretaries of all the Departments become settled, there will be more Presidential and Congress CRA’s approved and signed. America can breath again, because America will be Safe and Great Again. Mahalo to you, KeoniGohan, and others for all your work.

      • @ kuroiwaj
        Cleaning up the MESS, deregulating O’s ill regulations, is easier when you have a TRUE GREAT LEADER who hears & speaks for WeTheDeplorablePeople.
        Mahalo to you to Kuroiwaj, sarge22 and all the other Patriots!

      • kuroiwaj – Sure. Who needs clean drinking water? And we might as well have constant earthquakes like they have now in Oklahoma, thanks to Mr. Pruitt.

        The President just did away with regulations that prevent coal companies from dumping coal waste into streams and rivers. Who needs water?

        Do you ever read anything, ever?

        • IRT Klastri, sorry that you popped a fuse. It’s difficult to function when you’re popping fuses from reading each repealed Hawaii born ex-President Obama’s supported regulations and/or executive orders. The Obama administration screwed up in not filing each regulation in the Federal Register and presenting a copy of the regulation to Congress from day 1. You as an attorney know that each of those regulations can, and probably will, be repealed by the CRA. Eight years wiped out because of incompetence. Not nice. Auwe.

        • kuroiwaj – Which regulations do you want removed? It’ll be hard for you to be specific, because you have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about.

          But please take a stab at it. This should be good! And you’re lying about regulations not being part of the CFR. Of course they are.

          You also keep lying about people “popping fuses” when we’re all invigorated to be part of the opposition.

        • klastri> I hear the sound of sirens in the background. Kuroiwaj did not mention in his post that he wanted any specific regulations or as you call them CFRs to be removed. Why are you pushing him like that, typical bully tactics. No class at all. Does it make you feel big and powerful. Take a break!!! Aloha!

  • This clown denies the facts of global climate change and growing evidence that this world won’t survive as we know it. Sad but Trump is right: He is here to make us all suffer the consequences of his rigged election.

    • The climate has changed for eons, and will continue to do so. The fact that snowflakes like you may melt because of it makes me smile. When solar activity starts to subside and the earth starts cooling then what will be your mantra?

      • When solar activity starts to subside, that would mean the sun is dying? Life obviously wouldn’t be able to continue on this planet. That is why we need a good space program so that when the time comes, we can go to other galzxies.

        • You can really tell who skipped Science class. The PPM of atmospheric CO2 isn’t a factor to be considered, because it’s invisible.

          Ignorance is bliss!

  • Why is it that there are so many environment haters? Do they want to breathe dirty air and drink polluted water? I am aghast at all the trolls that post on this paper. Really this is a Day of Infamy and this time the enemy is from within. Where is all the public outrage today? It is focused on immigration instead of the environment when our own health is at stake.

    • The “trolls” on this blog really don’t care about things like the environment. Out of sight, out of mind. They see no connection between the land, seas and their self interest. Unusual, since we live in Hawaii and the connection between land and sea is evident everywhere. We are fortunate that the Hawaiian culture shows us how the sea is like out refrigerator and how the loi is the base of the culture.
      The “trolls” just enjoy doing their “nani nani boo” to people with different opinions and when faced with a strong argument will just resort to “we won, get over it” post.
      Moving forward is not a part of their agenda. Evidence all the EO’s to roll back.
      Putting the man who has sued the EPA in charge of the department makes a whole lot of sense for these people. To wait just a couple of weeks until all the e-mails between him and the oil and coal companies are recovered seem such a small thing but it seems their agenda is a bit different. That’s ok, because if there are issues that are recovered after his appointment, he can always be removed. It’ll be another embarrassment for the administration but this is part of the operating procedure for Trump.
      Yes, I’ve accepted that Trump is the POTUS. Now I’m just waiting for him to stop embarrassing the USA.

      • IRT Dai, have you not noticed that Countries and Leaders of those Countries have returned to become close friends of President Trump and the United States. And, that Countries that challenge the United States are on very tenuous ground from the United States and its Allies. The World is slowly gaining its balance. Oh, the Worlds environment is also gaining its balance which has been going on from the beginning of time.

        • kurowaj – You actually think that people respect Trump on the world stage? He’s a laughingstock among our allies. The British Parliament asked the PM to bar Mr. Trump from speaking to the MPs.

          I really feel sorry for you. Trump is an incompetent, hot mess.

      • Trolls will be trolls. Climate will “balance” – question is will we be a part of that “balance” or will we go the way of so many other species – including various extinct lines of the human family? For most of us – the question is moot – not that long to live. It’s our children and grandchildren who will face the reality of climate change. The current administration is concerned with revitalizing our economy but some of it’s announced policies are confusing. Stop imports which will lead to less exports as other countries will not be able to import our goods. Plus – many of our small and big retailers depend on imports – cut imports and watch more business failures. I watch Japanese and British news shows – our “friends” are not at all sure what we are doing. Also – find it tragic that some American-Asians vocally support our current POTUS. He will turn on Asians just as he’s turned on other minorities. Again – for the trolls – I did not vote for Hillary Clinton or Trump or any of the clowns in the primaries. For that matter I didn’t vote for Obama when he ran. YMMV

        • Your name says it all. Better buy some warm clothes for your grandchildren. Say hi to Al Gore and his carbon footprint. Does he really care.

        • sarge22 – just so you know, although I know you don’t care – I’m an old man. Retired several years ago and waiting for the Big One. No kids – never thought I could bring kids into this mess we call a world. This last election being an example – two of the worst candidates I’ve seen in decades. YMMV

    • environmental_lady – It’s largely because Trump supporters, like Mr. Trump, don’t read.

      Ignorance is bliss. And Trump supports are very, very blissful. Very.

      Lawsuits are being prepared about his environmental EOs now. We’re going to rely on the courts to control him.

      It’s unfortunate that Mr. Trump is profoundly mentally illl.

      • Klastri> Are you qualified to make a judgement so severe that you claim that the POTUS is “profoundly mentally ill!” Are you schooled in PSY and are licensed to practice anywhere? If not, then don’t make false statements about POTUS. If you are then by all means have at it. But aren’t you an attorney? Or is that a false statement also? You are becoming my verified source of VERY FAKE NEWS (VFN)!!Aloha!!!

    • Perhaps when the emails are released next week? republicans may find they really should reverse themselves? time will tell. lol

      I would not want to be a republican when these emails become public. Will make Hillary’s emails petty by comparison.

    • It wasn’t just Senators who opposed…it was employees of the EPA. Are they hiding something? They cannot be fired…unless there has been some law has been violated…hmmm…let’s see what develops. 🙂

  • Great, now the lines of communications and accountability can start resurrect itself on our compliance to address the EPA’s settlement with the C&C on sewage system upgrades, sewage treatment and discharge in 2010 (we were given 10 years). I’m not surprised, but rather disappointed that SA nor the Civil Beat taken it upon themselves to track progress. Now perhaps we will… 🙂

    • I wish SA would cover this and stop reporting silly news about Trump. Enough of the day to day Trump events. Yup, he’ll tweet or say something stupid, but in the end, it’s what his and Congress policies and laws will be that’s important. Our sewage system compliance agreement and its status is more important than Trump’s latest tweet. Come on, SA. Good comment, wn.

  • “Under President Obama, the EPA has published over 3,900 rules, averaging almost 500 annually, and amounting to over 33,000 new pages in the Federal Register. The compliance costs associated with EPA regulations under Obama have grown by more than $50 billion in annual costs. It is clear from a Subcommittee hearing that President Obama has allowed, and even encouraged, EPA regulators to stretch the legal limits of the U.S. Constitution and the Agency’s statutorily granted authority.”

  • hope he brings back the good old days 4 barrel carbs in cars, screeching tires gas smell on the roads and no environmentalist. ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh the good old days return.

    • Ahhh, the good old days. When rivers in Cleveland would burst into flames spontaneously from the amount of flammable industrial waste being dumped in there. Yes, those were great days!

      And let’s bring back lead in gasoline! How about that, 64hoo? Eating lead doesn’t seem to have impaired you! Well … I may have to take that one back, but you get the picture, right? Who needs clean air and drinking water?

  • hope he cut some funding to the EPA, it makes me laugh when these environmentalist last year and how many years ago these nuts complain about global warming and say the ice caps in the arctic are melting and yet in the news at least three times last year the environmentalist ship had to be rescued because they got stuck in the ice in the arctic where they say there is no ice because of melting, the coastguard had to rescue them so there is no global warming or melting in the arctic its all in the minds of environmentalist whackos.

    • Well then, Professor … you certainly have been busy working on your Ph.D. in Climatology!

      Yes sir … if there’s anyone on here who I would look to for a well considered, knowledgeable, analysis arrived at by using the Scientific Method, it would certainly be 64hoo. Great work!

      • why do you environmentalist nuts call global warming climate change, don’t you know the difference, well let me teach you climate change is what we get every year its called winter, spring, summer and fall that’s climate change has nothing to do with the so called fake global warming, you people with mental disorders cannot seem to comprehend that.

        • Well no, Professor, that’s not climate change. That’s called weather. The ignorant and poorly educated (like you, for instance) think the two are the same thing.

          You’re funny! Have you considered learning how to write in English?

        • well you can believe in your way of climate change and I will believe in my way what is climate change. you been brainwashed by the libs. and epa nuts where as I believe in the truth of what climate change is.

        • 64hoo – Of course. You’ve made it a habit to make up your own facts and your own meanings for words. So not surprise there!

  • Some people argue as though our State relies heavily on coal for jobs, etc.

    Others argue for a strong EPA to protect the environment everyone lives in.

    Imho, whether you support coal or a clean environment, everyone needs to accept responsibility for any consequences, be it to the environment we all share and live in, or for those who rely on coal to support their families, or generate electricity for their cities.

    Honestly, is there a position that is the “right” one? If you worry about future generations, how do we reconcile these differences? Should government let each state and city decide what is best for themselves? Is it less about party lines in the future, and more about what seems to be the only viable compromise for democracy, which is freedom of choice?

  • The reporter is lying
    The expansion sought by the eps would have expanded the definition of navigable waters to ponds and damp earth
    It was basically a power grab to gain authority far far far beyond original intent

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