02.17.17

Leahy Votes NO On Pruitt Nomination For EPA Administrator

Leahy Votes NO On Pruitt Nomination
For EPA Administrator

WASHINGTON (FRIDAY, Feb. 17, 2017) – Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) voted no on Friday afternoon when the U.S. Senate approved President Trump’s nomination of Scott Pruitt to head the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Pruitt was confirmed in a vote of 52 to 46.

Leahy on Friday had supported a Democratic-led motion to postpone the vote until the Senate can review court-ordered emails and documents from the Pruitt’s Oklahoma Attorney General’s Office – documents likely to highlight his close ties to the oil and gas industry -- which Pruitt had refused to cooperate in providing to the Senate during the confirmation process. A federal judge on Thursday ordered production of the documents.

Leahy said he opposes the Pruitt nomination based on his long record of siding with powerful special interests, such as big oil companies, over the public’s health, in a wide range of his actions, including the many lawsuits he has filed to quash EPA clean air and water rules. He also voiced concern about Pruitt’s dismissive views of the scientific consensus about climate change.

“I worry that confirming Mr. Pruitt will turn the Environmental Protection Agency into the “Polluters Protection Agency,” Leahy said.

He also said he is “deeply disturbed by Mr. Pruitt’s lack of specificity and his evasiveness during his hearing and in response to written questions” during the confirmation process.

Leahy noted that members of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, which handled Pruitt’s confirmation hearing, were told 19 separate times to get the information they were requesting from his own office, the Oklahoma Attorney General’s Office, an office that has more than a two-year backlog for such requests. Now that a federal judge has ordered Pruitt’s office to provide those documents, Leahy said the Senate should be allowed time to review them before voting on Pruitt’s confirmation.

In a statement on Friday outlining his reasons for opposing the nomination, Leahy cited several of the more than 1,600 letters and messages he has received from Vermonters, in opposition to the Pruitt nomination:

“One Vermonter from Norwich, Vermont, a student studying sustainability and environmental management said she is fearful of Mr. Pruitt’s focus on eliminating and defunding any programs that could help to stop climate change. She went on to describe the importance of peer-reviewed scientific research on climate change and how federal support for our leading academic institutions to complete this research is in our national interest as we monitor the Earth’s vital signs.

“I also heard from a constituent from Essex Junction, Vermont, who shared with me how he has seen firsthand at his technology company how the federal promotion of research and development has directly promoted innovation and technological change. This innovation and these technical advances have led to new technologies that have radically changed many aspects of our lives and have transformed our economy, creating jobs, and invigorating our entrepreneurial spirit. He was concerned that Mr. Pruitt would seek to dismantle work that the EPA has done to find better ways to solve environmental problems, from research and technology to regulation, community programs, and external partnerships as they work to find creative ways to achieve results.

“I also heard from Vermont farmers like one in Bristol, Vermont, who shared with me how her family farm has experienced the firsthand chaotic effects of climate change and has responded to the call to be more resilient. She voiced her willingness to cooperate with government regulations to protect our air, water, and soil and that we “need the EPA to use science and enforcement to lead the charge.” She went on to say that the head of the EPA should be working to ensure that our air is clean to breathe and our water is safe to drink, not to ensure that polluters get a free pass. I agree wholeheartedly with her.

“From rural Hartland, I heard from one Vermonter who said that “the health and wellbeing of Americans must be a priority -- not the wealth of a few corporations and the individuals that benefit from that wealth. America must be a global leader when it comes to addressing climate change if all nations are to take appropriate measures.’”

Leahy’s full statement is available at this LINK:

https://www.leahy.senate.gov/press/statement-on-the-nomination-of-scott-pruitt-to-be-administrator-of-the-environmental-protection-agency

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