EPW Roundtable Statement: Democratic Panel Discussion on Pruitt Nomination

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.), top Democrat on the Environment and Public Works Committee, hosted a panel discussion on the nomination of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to serve as Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Below is Senator Carper’s opening statement, as prepared for delivery:

 “I am deeply troubled by Mr. Pruitt’s record on the environment and his views about the role of the EPA. My concerns starts with the direction he has received from the person who nominated him. President Donald Trump said repeatedly—at least half a dozen times—on the campaign trail that he would starve the EPA of funding or eliminate the agency.  In March last year, President Trump stated, in reference to the EPA, ‘We are going to get rid of it in almost every form. We’re going to have little tidbits left but we’re going to take a tremendous amount out.’  After the election, President Trump didn’t seem to change his tune, stating just two days after the election, again in reference to the EPA, ‘Environmental protection, what they do is a disgrace; every week they come out with new regulations.’

 “Looking at Scott Pruitt’s record, it seems he is perfectly in line with our new President’s mission to stymie or eliminate the EPA. I am thankful to Chairman Barrasso for allowing EPW to have a full day in our committee with the nominee last week. Unfortunately, serious questions remain about the nominee’s record and vision for the agency he seeks to lead. For example, Scott Pruitt has sued the very agency he has been asked to lead over a dozen times against clean air, clean water and climate protections.  Many of these lawsuits are ongoing.  How he will resolve these conflicts of interest remains uncertain.

 “At our hearing, Scott Pruitt did not seem to have the basic scientific knowledge regarding some of our most pressing environmental issues – such as ‘What is a safe level of lead in our drinking water?’ Even common sense tells us that the answer is none. Scott Pruitt also seemed to be uncertain about his own environmental record, especially on mercury.  I look forward to seeing the Attorney General’s answers to our many questions, but in an effort to ensure transparency, we are having this roundtable today. 

 “Today, we will hear straight from people who can talk about his record in Oklahoma and what impacts his extreme views may have on the EPA and public health in the future.

 “Thank you to you all for joining us. I know many of you have traveled a long way to be here. We greatly appreciate it and are eager to hear your stories. And, to my colleagues who have made time to be here, thanks to you as well. I know many senators who do not sit on the Environment and Public Works Committee, have concerns about Mr. Pruitt’s record as well, so we’re glad you could be here too as we get to the truth. After I do a quick introduction, I ask that each person on our panel take three minutes for an opening statement and then we will open it up for questions. Then, we will open it up for questions.  I hope this will be more a conversation than a traditional hearing.”

 “We have on the panel before us, Ms. Camp-Horinek is a Ponca Tribal Councilwoman of Oklahoma, long-time Native rights activist, environmentalist. Next, we have Ms. Kelly Foster, Senior Attorney at the Waterkeeper Alliance in Oklahoma.  She is also the former Environmental Protection Unit Chief that used to exist in the Oklahoma Attorney General’s Office. Next, we have Jason B. Aamodt, Esq. founder of the Indian and Environmental Law Group in Tulsa Oklahoma. Next, we have Gretchen Dahlkemper, the National Field Director for Moms Clean Air Force. Next, we have John Walke, NRDC’s Director of the Climate and Clean Air Program. And finally, we have Dr. Lynn R. Goldman, the Dean at Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University and former Assistant Administrator for Toxic Substances at EPA under the President Bill Clinton Administration. Welcome everyone.”