Pruitt confirmed to lead Environmental Protection Agency
Oklahoma Attorney General gets enough votes despite Democrats’ objections
The United States Senate has confirmed Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to run the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), despite Democrats’ attempts to delay the vote and some groups’ concerns over him running the agency.
The Senate voted 52-46 to confirm Pruitt, with one Republican, Susan Collins of Maine, voting against him. Two Democrats from coal-rich states, Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, voted for him.
The Natural Resources Defense Council had requested that the Senate delay the vote after an Oklahoma court ruled this week that Pruitt will have to turn over 3,000 emails between his office and energy companies by February 21 after the Center for Media and Democracy, a watchdog group, sued for their release. Also, nearly 800 former EPA employees signed a letter asking lawmakers to reject Pruitt’s nomination.
As attorney general of one of the largest oil-, natural gas- and grain-producing states, Pruitt has stood up against the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), an EPA-run program that requires transportation fuel sold in the United States to contain a minimum volume of renewable fuels. The RFS originated with the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and was expanded and extended by the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. However, Trump has said he supports the RFS, calling it “an important tool in the mission to achieve energy independence for the U.S.,” adding, “I will do everything in my power as president to achieve that goal.”