Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM) will vote against President Trump’s appointment to head the EPA, according to a Sunday Facebook post.
Progressives and environmental advocates have rallied around defeating Scott Pruitt’s nomination. The Oklahoma state attorney general has drawn criticism for allowing oil and gas companies to write his office’s policy positions opposing climate change and for leading the Republican charge to rollback or stop critical EPA rules through lawsuits against the agency.
Read More:Trump’s EPA pick let Republican donors, oil execs draft climate policy | ProgressNowNm
Pruitt downplayed his climate-denying record during last week’s confirmation hearings, but progressive Senators were quick to point them out.
Media Matters for America summarized two such exchanges between Pruitt and Sen. Kamala Harris and Sen. Bernie Sanders:
Pruitt refused to rule out blocking California’s clean car rules and other state-level pollution limits.
First, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) noted that “the EPA has historically recognized California’s authority to issue new motor vehicle pollution standards that go above and beyond federal standards,” and she asked Pruitt whether he would commit to “recognizing California’s authority to issue its own new motor vehicle air pollution standards.” Pruitt replied that he would “review” the issue but refused to commit to upholding California’s right to set stronger pollution standards.
Pruitt passed the buck on addressing Oklahoma’s fracking-induced earthquakes.
Citing Oklahoma’s “record-breaking number of earthquakes” that scientists attribute to the process of fracking for oil and gas, Sen. Sanders asked Pruitt if he could cite “any opinion that you wrote, any enforcement actions you took against the companies that were injecting waste-fracking water.” Pruitt replied that he was “very concerned” about the issue, but that “the corporation commission in Oklahoma is vested with the jurisdiction and they’ve actually acted on that.”
However, although the Oklahoma Corporation Commission is responsible for regulating wastewater injection, experts told The Atlantic that “there were a number of legal questions on which Pruitt could have engaged” (emphasis original). Those include issuing a legal opinion on whether the commission could stop wastewater from coming from other states or join Pawnee residents in a class-action lawsuit against oil companies that they say are liable for the earthquakes. The Atlantic added that “while it is true that Pruitt does not regulate oil and gas extraction in Oklahoma, other attorneys general have involved themselves in difficult fracking cases.”
Sanders concluded: “Your state is having a record-breaking number of earthquakes. You’ve acknowledged that you are concerned. If that’s the type of EPA administrator you will be, you’re not going to get my vote.”