Environment, Trump Administration

Over objections from EPA employees, environmental advocates, scientists, U.S. Senate confirms Scott Pruitt as agency chief

Meet the new EPA administrator, Scott Pruitt, who opposes the EPA.

No amount of concern that Scott Pruitt is too friendly with the fossil fuel industry, that he has improperly withheld 3,000 emails about his business dealings with coal, oil and natural gas companies; that he has said climate change is a hoax; that hundreds of rank-and-file EPA employees oppose him; that he is blithely unaware of pollution’s harm to the public health; and that he holds in contempt the very agency he was nominated to lead: none of this swayed the majority of the U.S. Senate in approving him to lead the EPA.

The Senate confirmed Pruitt, currently the Oklahoma Attorney General, as the new EPA administrator today at 1 p.m. Both North Carolina Sens. Richard Burr and Thom Tillis voted for Pruitt.

Sen. Susan Collins, a Republican from Maine, voted against his nomination. However, her nay vote was canceled out by two Democrats, Sen. Joe Manchin, a West Virginia, and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota. They are interested in reviving their states’ coal industries, which is unlikely, given the market forces favoring natural gas and renewables.

Pruitt was grilled last month by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, where Republicans ultimately voted to send his nomination to the full Senate. Democrats boycotted the vote.

Yesterday, a state judge in Oklahoma ordered Pruitt to release thousands of emails related to his dealings with fossil fuel companies. Those emails are public under open records law, but Pruitt had withheld them for two years.

Now that Pruitt has been confirmed, it will be interesting to see what changes — in personnel, in rulemaking and in public information — he will enact. Since President Trump took office, there has been a hiring freeze at the agency, as well as a halt on public information. The main EPA website hasn’t changed — except for a scrubbing of the climate change section — and no social media posts or press releases have been issued.

Next, the Senate can turn its attention to approving a deputy EPA administrator. Former NCDEQ Secretary Donald van der Vaart is one of two finalists for that job.

 

Check Also

Climate change throws shade on five vulnerable tree species in North Carolina

The Carolina Hemlock has enough problems. The tree, ...

Top Stories from NCPW

  • News
  • Commentary

More than a month after a deadline to correct faulty campaign finance reports, N.C. Sen. Ralph Hise [...]

Even before he dropped the gavel on the Senate Finance Committee meeting, Sen. Jerry Tillman, a noto [...]

The $23 billion budget deal speeding through the N.C. General Assembly this week includes a platoon [...]

Royal Diadem Jewelers in Greensboro sets itself apart in a number of small ways - fast and friendly [...]

The final budget that lawmakers have proposed fails to strengthen the foundation of North Carolina’s [...]

Most of the initial headlines about the final budget agreement announced Monday afternoon by legisla [...]

Unexplained, backroom maneuver would rob already underfunded anti-poverty program There’s no denying [...]

Women and their access to health care has been in the news these past few months, as the plan to rep [...]

Featured | Special Projects

Trump + North Carolina
In dozens of vitally important areas, policy decisions of the Trump administration are dramatically affecting and altering the lives of North Carolinians. This growing collection of stories summarizes and critiques many of the most important decisions and their impacts.
Read more


HB2 - The continuing controversy
Policy Watch’s comprehensive coverage of North Carolina’s sweeping anti-LGBT law.
Read more