Confirmation Hearings: Take Action on the Scott Pruitt Nomination

This is the third in our series of action items to address certain of President Elect Donald Trump’s nominations. Today’s topic is the nomination of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to serve as Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

What you should know about the nominee: We oppose Mr. Pruitt’s nomination for three reasons.

First, as Attorney General, Mr. Pruitt fought the very laws and regulations that the EPA Administrator should strengthen. For example, as Attorney General he participated in a lawsuit to overturn EPA’s Clean Power Plan, a set of rules designed to cut carbon emissions from power plants, the first ever national standards to address this issue. (Those rules have still not gone into effect: in February 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court stayed implementation of the plan pending judicial review.) Mr. Pruitt also unsuccessfully sued the EPA to challenge regulations on mercury emissions from coal plants.

Second, Mr. Pruitt’s deep connections to the oil and gas industry are a conflict of interest. In 2014, the New York Times reported that Mr. Pruitt sent letters to the EPA drafted by energy company officials challenging estimates of air pollution caused by those very companies. The Times called his relationship with the oil and gas industry an “unprecedented, secretive alliance.” Moreover, Mr. Pruitt is a director at the Rule of Law Defense Fund, a nonprofit which received $175,000 in 2014 from Freedom Partners, coordinator of the Kochs’ political activities.

Third, Mr. Pruitt denies global climate change, stating: “scientists continue to disagree about the degree and extent of global warming and its connection to the actions of mankind.” Even Exxon Mobile doesn’t tout this line any longer as an excuse to do nothing. The consequences of denial and not controlling emissions are far too important to allow confirmation. We work with communities in Philadelphia that are already directly impacted by climate change in the form of catastrophic flooding; on our agenda are the effects of excessive heat on low-income people. Climate change is not in question for these communities and many around the world.

Long-time Law Center attorney Jerry Balter was one of the first attorneys to develop legal strategies to address environmental injustice. Today we continue to partner with historically disinvested communities to address the disparate health risks and environmental degradation to which they are subject. With his record, we have very real reason to fear that Mr. Pruitt would ignore or even dismantle the EPA’s progress in implementing Executive Order 12898, a Clinton-era requirement directing federal agencies to take special account of the fact that minority and low-income communities are those that face the greatest environmental burdens.

In sum, Mr. Pruitt does not have a record of protecting our nation’s water and air or the health of our nation’s residents. To the contrary, he has shown himself to be a person who would oppose and dismantle our critical environmental protections.

Timing: The Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works has scheduled a hearing for January 18 at 10 a.m. in Room 406 of the Dirksen Senate Office Building. The hearing will be webcast live on the committee’s website. The committee has not yet published a witness list.

What you should do:

  • Write a letter to the editor of your community newspaper explaining why you oppose Mr. Pruitt’s nomination. This link provides some resources about how to write such a letter.
  • Call your Senators’ offices and ask for the person responsible for nominations. (Even if you have already called on a different nomination, call again!)
  • State your opposition to the nomination.
  • Ask your Senator for a commitment to a) vote against the nominee and b) issue a statement explaining that position. (If your Senator has already expressed concern about the nomination or stated an intent to vote against the nominee, thank him or her.)
  • Publish on social media or otherwise the response (or lack of response) you are given.
  • Share this email with others who might want to take action.

Pennsylvania’s Senators:

Bob Casey Jr.

Senator Casey has issued a statement regarding Mr. Pruitt’s nomination. He calls the nomination “very troubling” and that he does not have confidence that Mr. Pruitt would enforce the country’s environmental laws.

Phone numbers:

Washington, D.C. (202) 224-6324

Philadelphia, PA (215) 405-9660

Phone numbers for other offices:

Pat Toomey

Senator Toomey does not appear have issued any statements regarding Mr. Pruitt.

Phone numbers:

Washington, D.C. (202) 224-4254

Philadelphia, PA (215) 241-1090

Phone numbers for other offices:

Other states:

Updates from previous posts:

On January 11, Senator Casey issued a statement expressing “significant concern” about the nomination of Jeff Sessions as Attorney General.