Trump's Environment Agency Pick Pruitt Vows to Build Partnerships With US States

REUTERS  Brendan McDermid

On the other hand, Pruitt has made plenty of friends in the fossil fuel industry, and they are coming to his defense.

During the hearing, Moran asked Pruitt about the drinking water situation in Pretty Prairie.

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Pruitt, who has long represented oil and gas companies seeking to stymie environmental regulations, said current EPA regulations to cut air pollution are “dictatorial” over each states role in cutting air pollution. "Obviously, you have stood up and said you have done everything you can to stop future earthquakes as a result of fracking?" Edward Markey, D-Mass., Pruitt said he has "every willingness to recuse" himself on a case-by-case basis if directed to do so by the EPA's ethics office.

As a climate change denier who has fought the EPA's science-based health safeguards, Pruitt doesn't understand how valuable the agency is for the states. "There's nothing in your career [to suggest you] would care" about these people, he told Pruitt.

Devon Energy was pleased.

"If we truly want to advance and achieve cleaner air and water, the states must be partners and not mere passive instruments of federal will", Pruitt says in the written testimony.

"Administrators in past have not granted the waiver and have granted the waiver", Pruitt said in response to questions from Harris.

"There was a concern about the overestimated percentages that the EPA put in the record", Pruitt said. "That's something I would be concerned about...but not something I've researched".

"EPA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) agree that there is no known safe level of lead in a child's blood", the EPA says on their webpage about lead in drinking water.

Another activist shouted that "Pruitt should not run the EPA!". "You used your office as a direct extension of an oil company rather than a direct extension of the public health of the people of Oklahoma". "Vote no for the nomination of Scott Pruitt as the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency".

"As head of the EPA, attorney general Pruitt will ensure that the agency fulfills the role delegated to it by the laws passed by Congress", Sen.

Trump has called climate change a hoax and has promised to refocus the EPA on protecting air and water quality, while scrapping many of Obama's initiatives to curb carbon dioxide emissions.

Pruitt had previously acknowledged at the hearing that "the climate is changing and human activity contributes to that in some manner".

The skepticism of the incoming Trump administration toward climate-change action presents a major challenge to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. And, as our weather continues to change, we must do more to prevent and prepare for the impacts of climate change.

"My personal opinion is immaterial to the job I'm carrying out", Pruitt responded to Sanders, who unsuccessfully sought the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination. The attorney general from Oklahoma has spent a lot of time fighting against many federal environmental regulations - including the current EPA's Clean Power Plan, which is the first federal policy of its kind created to slow greenhouse gas emissions. Pruitt said he would support the USA renewable fuels standard, which requires biofuels like ethanol to be blended in gasoline, but said the program needed some tweaks.

"This paradigm that we live within today that if you're pro-energy you're anti-environment or if you're pro-environment you're anti-energy is a false narrative", Pruitt said.