January 18, 2017

Whitehouse Stands Up for RI Fishermen, Environment in Pruitt Hearing

Senator concerned about whether nominee would support fisheries, protect RI from polluters

Washington, DC – In a hearing of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse today asked Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA),  whether he would support the fishing and aquaculture industries in the face of climate change, and whether he would protect Rhode Islanders from out-of-state polluters.

“As we discussed when you and I met, the oceans off our Ocean State are warming due to fossil fuel-driven climate change,” said Whitehouse.  “It is crashing our fisheries, like lobster and winter flounder, and making earning a living harder for our fishermen.  I see nothing in your career to give those fishermen any confidence that you will care one bit for their well-being, and not just the well-being of the fossil fuel industry.

In 2015, Rhode Island landed over 75 million pounds of commercial fishing catch, valued at almost $82 million, according to National Marine Fisheries Service data.  More than 8 million Rhode Island oysters were sold for consumption and the number of people employed by aquaculture farms in the state increased by 20 percent in 2015, according to the Rhode Island Coastal Management Resources Council.

“In Rhode Island we have bad air days, and because of EPA’s work, there are fewer and fewer,” continued Whitehouse.  “A bad air day is a day when people driving into work hear on the radio that ozone [pollutants] from out-of-state smokestacks have made the air in Rhode Island dangerous, and that infants and the elderly and people with breathing difficulties should stay home on an otherwise beautiful day.  Because those smokestacks are out-of-state, we need EPA to protect us, and I see nothing in your record that would give a mom taking her child to a hospital for an asthma attack any comfort that you would take the slightest interest in her.”

A full video of Whitehouse’s questioning is available here.  Constituents are encouraged to share thoughts about or questions for any of the President-elect’s nominees with Senator Whitehouse via his website, whitehouse.senate.gov, or by calling his office at (401) 453-5294.


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