February 17, 2017

Whitehouse Statement on Pruitt Confirmation

Washington, DC – The Senate confirmed Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt today by a vote of 52-46 to serve as Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator.  Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, released the following statement on the vote:

“Allowing this nominee to scoot through the Senate without his full record before us is a plain abdication of our constitutional responsibility.  Throughout this confirmation process, it has been clear that Republicans do not want us to know about Scott Pruitt’s deep conflicts of interest.  They are not interested in his dark money operation, which uses polluting industry dollars.  They do not want to hear about his willingness to slap fossil fuel companies’ arguments on Oklahoma Attorney General letterhead and submit them to the EPA, no questions asked.  They do not want to know about Mr. Pruitt closing his environmental enforcement division or quietly winding down litigation to protect Oklahomans from devastating water contamination. 

“They certainly do not want to know about the 3,000 emails between him and the fossil fuel industry that he has stonewalled for over two years.  An Oklahoma judge referred to his office’s foot-dragging as an ‘abject failure to provide prompt and reasonable access to documents.’  The judge ordered them released, so we’ll start to see what he has been hiding this Tuesday. 

“Senator Schumer offered Leader McConnell the opportunity to vote on a different nomination today so all Senators could see what will be disclosed next week.  No time would be lost in filling the President’s cabinet.  But the Leader insisted on rushing Scott Pruitt through before the emails are public.

“Republicans in this body have exercised willful blindness today, but they won’t be able to turn a blind eye to Pruitt’s actions as Administrator or escape responsibility for his actions.  Over the last 45 years, the EPA has cleaned our water and air and protected the health of millions of Americans.  If Pruitt is the kind of Administrator his record suggests he will be, Americans will demand answers.”


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