The Senate this morning confirmed Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt on a near-party-line vote of 52-46 to head of the Environmental Protection Agency.
Democrats argued Pruitt should not head the agency while his state is suing the agency for rules created during the Obama administration and he is too close to the oil and natural gas industry, which is strong in his state.
Pruitt has locked horns with the EPA and other federal agencies several times in recent years, including challenging the Clean Power Plan (CPP), the Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) overreach, Endangered Species Act (ESA) decisions and even Obama’s failed effort to impose stricter overtime rules and costs on businesses and state and local governments.
Nevada’s own attorney general, Adam Laxalt, upon learning of the pending appointment immediately issued a statement praising the selection of Pruitt, who has joined with Nevada and other states in fighting a number of administration power grabs.
An example of Pruitt’s views on the role of the federal government and the rights of the citizens and local governance came when he filed suit over the EPA’s WOTUS rules.
“Respect for private property rights have allowed our nation to thrive, but with the recently finalized rule, farmers, ranchers, developers, industry, and individual property owners will now be subject to the unpredictable, unsound, and often byzantine regulatory regime of the EPA,” Pruitt told the press at the time. “I, and many other local, state and national leaders across the country, made clear to the EPA our concerns and opposition to redefining the ‘Waters of the U.S.’ However, the EPA’s brazen effort to stifle private property rights has left Oklahoma with few options to deter the harm that its rule will do.”
When Oklahoma joined the 29 states, including Nevada, suing the federal government over Obama’s Clean Power Plan, which was an attempt to shut down virtually all electricity generation with fossil fuels and replace it with more expensive renewables, Pruitt commented, “This administration continues to treat states as mere vessels of federal will, abusing and disrespecting the vertical separation of powers defined by our Constitution.”
The greens positively fulminated over statements like the ones made by Pruitt and the Alabama attorney general in an op-ed in National Review in May: “Healthy debate is the lifeblood of American democracy, and global warming has inspired one of the major policy debates of our time. That debate is far from settled. Scientists continue to disagree about the degree and extent of global warming and its connection to the actions of mankind. That debate should be encouraged — in classrooms, public forums, and the halls of Congress. It should not be silenced with threats of prosecution. Dissent is not a crime.”
Nevada Republican Sen. Dean Heller voted to confirm, while Democrat Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto voted against confirmation.