By a narrow vote of 52 to 46, the Senate has confirmed Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to lead the Environmental Protection Agency. Mr. Pruitt’s long anti-environmental record makes it clear that he is the wrong person for this job. What former Secretary of State Colin Powell once called the Pottery Barn rule applies – ‘You break it, you buy it.’ These Senators confirmed him, so if Administrator Pruitt’s agenda leads to more pollution, these Senators will own it.
“All Senators knew of Mr. Pruitt’s record. They knew he dismantled Oklahoma’s environmental enforcement unit in 2011 and raised millions in political cash from the companies he will now oversee — companies that have faced EPA enforcement actions hundreds of times in recent years. Yet those Senators chose to put him in charge of enforcing our environmental laws, endangering the health and safety of our children.
“Even worse, 51 Senators agreed to rush Mr. Pruitt’s confirmation vote through today, even though an Oklahoma judge ruled just yesterday that Mr. Pruitt must release thousands of documents about his relationships with the fossil fuel industry. Senators requested many of those documents during the confirmation process, but did not receive them. This irresponsible rush vote before Senators had access to critical information subverts the democratic process. Our thanks to the 47 Senators who voted today for a more reasonable time frame to consider Pruitt’s nomination.
“Our focus will now be fighting Mr. Pruitt’s agenda of dismantling clean air and water protections that have saved so many lives. If unchecked, the Trump administration’s plans will mean more smog, mercury, carbon, and arsenic pollution in our air and water. In all, removing the many safeguards Mr. Pruitt has opposed in his career would cause up to 50,000 premature deaths, 850,000 asthma attacks, 28,000 hospital and emergency room visits, 21,000 heart attacks, and three million missed school and work days, and would eliminate $500 billion in net economic benefits, based on EPA analysis. The decision that 52 Senators made today will have real-world consequences.”
- Elizabeth Thompson, president of EDF Action
“For 50 years, Environmental Defense Fund has worked with Republicans and Democrats to help build America’s bedrock environmental protections. Scott Pruitt, with his record of siding with major polluters and against the public health, stands far outside that mainstream bipartisan tradition. That is why Mr. Pruitt is the first Environmental Protection Agency Administrator whose nomination EDF has ever opposed.
“We expect Mr. Pruitt to move quickly to begin dismantling EPA’s commitment to sound science, including the agency’s science-based finding that carbon pollution endangers human health and welfare and must be addressed. We also expect him to curtail the agency’s ability to operate and enforce the law, and to initiate efforts to weaken basic safeguards, potentially including protections against mercury pollution, smog and soot. And that will just be the beginning.
“We will fight these attacks in Congress and the courts, in streets and boardrooms, and at the state and international levels. It will be the duty of every American to speak up on behalf of our natural world, and the clean energy economy we need to preserve it, and to ensure that our long-standing bipartisan commitment to clean air and water is not betrayed. If the Trump Administration won’t protect and defend our public health, we the people will.”
- Fred Krupp, president of Environmental Defense Fund
At his confirmation hearing, Mr. Pruitt suddenly claimed a raft of new, environmentally friendly positions on key issues. These assertions helped him win confirmation. The Senators who accepted his assertions – against all prior evidence demonstrating his hostility to basic protections – have an obligation to hold Mr. Pruitt to these views, including:
Climate change: “So I think there is a legal obligation presently for the EPA Administrator to respond to the CO2 issue through proper regulations.”
Methane: “I am concerned” about the impacts of methane in driving global warming.
Ozone: “I agree that ground-level ozone is a dangerous pollutant that can cause respiratory and cardiovascular harm.”
Mercury: “I agree … that mercury is something that is very dangerous to the environment and should be regulated…. As Administrator, I will enforce the Mercury Air Toxics Rule so long as that Rule remains in force.”
Cross-State Air Pollution: “I believe the Cross State Air Pollution Rule is important and should be enforced by the EPA. An upwind state that contributes to a downwind state’s nonattainment should take responsibility for that contribution.”
We would like to commend those Senators who chose to put the health of our children first by opposing Mr. Pruitt’s confirmation:
Sen. Van Hollen
Sen. Cortez Masto
And we will hold accountable those who voted to confirm him:
Sen. Moore Capito
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Environmental Defense Fund (edf.org), a leading international nonprofit organization, creates transformational solutions to the most serious environmental problems. EDF links science, economics, law and innovative private-sector partnerships. Connect with us on EDF Voices, Twitter and Facebook.
EDF Action (http://www.edfaction.org/) is at the forefront of educating legislators about developing new solutions that protect the natural world while growing the economy. Through grassroots and direct lobbying, EDF Action amplifies Environmental Defense Fund’s ability to champion laws that are based on science, economic incentives, and, above all, the protection of our environment.