Environmentalists react to Pruitt's EPA hearing

The American Farm Bureau Federation has formally endorsed the nomination of Scott Pruitt as administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Pruitt said during his confirmation hearing on Wednesday that he was committed to Congress' plan, laid out in 2007, to annually increase the amount of ethanol and other renewables blended with petroleum fuels.

Part of his belief is giving states power to make environmental decisions and supporting those decisions from the federal level.

While providing no transparency on this vast and secretive network of cash in exchange for political influence and state-sanctioned advocacy, Pruitt repeatedly rose to the defense of the fossil-fuel industry.

During the hearing, Pruitt said that the Supreme Court required the EPA to regulate carbon dioxide as a pollutant under the Clean Air Act because of carbon's role in global warming. "The EPA is an administrative agency; it is not a legislative body". They say it is the cause of climate change.

Citizen's Climate Lobby activist Mary Francis can't believe Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt is on the verge of becoming EPA administrator.

The NCBA is just one group fighting to stop the "Waters of the United States" rule, an EPA regulation that would give the feds jurisdiction over virtually every drop of water in the country. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) referenced a New York Times investigation published in 2014 that showed Pruitt's office had copied onto its own letterhead a letter written by Devon Energy Corp. questioning EPA over its estimations of methane emissions from the oil and gas industry. One member of the nomination committee is Bernie Sanders, who promises to "vigorously oppose this nomination".

"The current federal regulations, while great, are not going to be aggressive enough", said Andrew Linhardt, a vehicle pollution expert with the nonprofit Sierra Club.

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He's said he will remove "job-destroying" coal industry regulations, create tax breaks for infrastructure investments and end Obama's moratorium on coal mining on federal lands, but industry analysts are doubtful policy changes will be enough to reverse falling demand for coal. "Because it matters. It matters that the states participate in the way that Congress has directed, and they've been unable to do so for a number of years".

Pruitt: I think, Senator, generally the answer to that would be yes, but with regard to the California waiver that was discussed earlier, that is an ajudicatory process that I can't prejudge what would occur there. And he conceded he did nothing as Oklahoma's top law enforcer to address oil and gas operations that on his watch turned his state into one of the most active natural disaster zones in the country.

The Oklahoma attorney general vowed to follow the "rule of law", if confirmed, and promised to "fairly and equitably enforce the rules and not pick winners and losers".

Pruitt let expire a 2003 agreement between Arkansas and Oklahoma aimed at reducing pollution from poultry waste and approved a new deal that called for more water-quality testing while agreeing not to institute any new enforcement actions or judicial proceedings against the industry.

Sullivan told Pruitt onerous EPA regulations are taking a mounting toll on business owners everywhere and pointed to a 200-page rule requiring anglers to obtain an EPA discharge permit to hose off the decks of their ships.

Pruitt would not commit to recusing himself from active lawsuits he has filed against EPA, saying only that he would recuse himself if directed to do so by EPA ethics counsel.

But, the Obama administration went too far in doing so, he said.

"It's critical that you recuse yourself", Markey said.

  • Alfonso Moody