Former EPA Employees Oppose Trump's Nominee

Posted by Joseph Keefe

Despite nearly 800 former Environmental Protection
Agency officials urging the U.S. Senate to reject President
Donald Trump's nominee to run the agency as the chamber moved
closer on Thursday to approving his pick, Scott Pruitt, the
attorney general of oil-producing Oklahoma is likely to be
confirmed.

The 773 former officials signed a letter organized by the
nonprofit group Environmental Integrity Project that said
Pruitt's record and public statements suggest he does not agree
with underlying principles of environmental laws.

As attorney general, Pruitt sued the EPA more than a dozen times
on behalf of Oklahoma and he has cast doubts on the science of
climate change.

"Mr. Pruitt has shown no interest in enforcing those laws, a
critically important function for EPA," the letter said.

A spokesman for Pruitt did not immediate respond to a request for
comment about the letter.

Pruitt's efforts to challenge the EPA's authority reflected "a
fundamental lack of understanding and respect for the vital role
that EPA plays in ensuring clean air and water for every American
no matter where they live or their color or creed," said Joseph
Santarella, an EPA enforcement lawyer under former Republican and
Democratic administrations, who signed the letter.

Republican Senator Sue Collins came out against Pruitt on
Wednesday saying his actions left her with doubts about whether
his vision for the agency was consistent with its mission to
protect human health and the environment.

Unless more Republicans join Collins, Pruitt's nomination is
likely to succeed.

Senator John Barrasso, a Republican of coal producing Wyoming and
head of the Senate energy committee, said Pruitt had "led the
charge to rein in big government and Washington overreach."

The Senate advanced Pruitt's nomination on Thursday by a vote of
54 to 46, clearing the way for 30 hours of debate before a final
vote, expected on Friday.

The path to stopping Pruitt became even steeper on Thursday after
Senator Heidi Heitkamp, a Democrat, said she would vote for him,
even though she had "concerns" about his commitment to a wide
energy strategy that includes renewable power like solar and wind
and his commitment to reduce emissions from energy operations.

Reporting by Timothy Gardner

Feb 16, 2017

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