Heartland Institute Experts Voice Support for Scott Pruitt as EPA Administrator

Pruitt, 48, is a climate change skeptic who sued the agency he intends to run more than a dozen times as Oklahoma's top prosecutor, a strong signal he will aggressively carry out Trump's vows to slash EPA regulation to the core to encourage more USA oil and gas drilling and coal mining.

"Really? You're going to be the head of the agency to protect the environment, and your personal feelings about whether climate change is caused by human activity and carbon emission is immaterial?" asked Sen. But Trump has said Pruitt will work to restore the EPA's essential mission of keeping air and water clean and safe.

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

There couldn't be a more vivid example of why the Senate must reject Pruitt's nomination to become the next EPA administrator. "In response to the Carbon dioxide issue, the EPA administrator is constrained by statutes".

Pruitt has ties to oil and gas companies, is a climate change critic and once signed his name to a letter to the EPA - written nearly entirely by Devon Energy - denouncing fracking regulations.

"He has a history of collusion with big energy firms in the state of Oklahoma", said Casey Holcomb, political and legislative chair of the Red Earth Group Sierra Club.

"Pruitt is skeptical of the degree to which human activity contributes to climate change, and Trump calls global warming a "hoax".

Merkley pointed out that Pruitt has yet to release complete financial records on some of these organizations and further, while Pruitt was an executive member of the Republican Attorney General's Association, it received more than $530,000 from the oil rich Koch Industries and $160,000 from Exxon Mobile. An EPA under Pruitt would restore confidence and certainty to the regulated community, much of which have lived in fear of a bullying EPA, committee Republicans said.

Later in the hearing, Senator Bernie Sanders pressed Pruitt on his views about climate change.

"The current federal regulations, while great, are not going to be aggressive enough", said Andrew Linhardt, a auto pollution expert with the nonprofit Sierra Club. "But he will be judged by the quality of his work, and I do believe that President-elect Trump wants a good, clean environment without destroying businesses".

"I believe the EPA needs a serious course correction". In the past six years, he filed more than a dozen lawsuits against the E.P.A., in many cases acting in concert with the very industries that the regulations were aimed at.

Booker later quipped: "There's a pattern of you being on side of polluters, even when it restricts state rights you claim to promote".

As Senator Jeff Merkley put it to Pruitt, "a public office is about serving the public...but you used your office as a direct extension of an oil company rather than a direct extension of the interests of the public health of the people of Oklahoma". More than a decade old, the standard is fiercely defended by the USA corn industry that provides most of the ethanol, but it has been a source of frustration for oil refiners.

Sanders, who ran unsuccessfully for president previous year in part on an aggressive climate platform, repeatedly pushed Scott Pruitt to acknowledge the scientific consensus that human activity is the primary cause of recent climate change through the emission of greenhouse gases.

"I have every willingness and desire to recuse as directed" by EPA's ethics officials, Pruitt said.

"It gives me little comfort you are not willing to answer those questions here", he said.

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.

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