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19 February 2017, 12:41 | Leonard Manning
Joe Wertz State Impact OklahomaCenter for Media and Democracy attorney Robert Nelon center outside a courtroom in Oklahoma City
On Feb. 17, by a 52-46 vote, the U.S. Senate confirmed Scott Pruitt as the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. In fact, even as Pruitt was being confirmed, news broke that an Oklahoma court had ordered him to release thousands of pages of correspondence between Pruitt's office and the oil-and-gas industry, as he wasn't compliant with state records laws on the subject.
Pruitt served six years as Oklahoma's attorney general and was closely aligned with oil and gas companies in his home state, whose executives backed his political campaigns.
Pruitt's confirmation vote came after an all-night session in which Democrats on the Senate floor demanded that Republican Majority Leader Senator Mitch McConnell delay the vote until Tuesday. "All the worse, Senate Republicans forced the confirmation vote before the public can know the truth about Pruitt's ties to industrial polluters", said National Resources Defence Council president Rhea Suh. Maine Sen. Susan Collins was the lone Republican to vote against his confirmation, while North Dakota Sen.
Whitman also questioned Pruitt's belief in climate change.
"It was wrong to hold this vote today, before senators and the American people have had the chance to see the full truth about Scott Pruitt". (Susan Collins, Republican of ME, once again has been granted permission to vote against the nomination, which likely means it's in the bag.) Making government ridiculous seems to be an essential part of Making American Great Again. The groupsinitially requested the release of email communications between Pruitt's office and fossil fuel interests more than two years ago, but Pruitt staffers didn't fulfill the request.
The confirmation was voted upon after a motion to extend debate was rejected 51-47.
To reverse or revamp existing rules around vehicle fuel standards, mercury pollution or a range of other environmental issues, Mr Pruitt would have to repeat the lengthy bureaucratic process that generated them.
Pruitt gave few details as to how his EPA would approach power sector regulation in testimony to lawmakers, but the New York Timesreports that Pruitt wrote a draft of an alternative to the Clean Power Plan in 2014 as he prepared to sue the federal government over the rule. "Attorney General Pruitt is a common sense guy", says Blunt.
Tried as they did, Democrats weren't able to prevent one of the EPA's sworn enemies form running the department - but on the off chance there is something in Pruitt's emails that could lead to corruption charges - well hey, it wouldn't be the first time emails took down a politician.
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