Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) denounced President Donald Trump’s nominee to head the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, just hours before the Senate was scheduled to vote on his approval.
Warren spent nearly an hour on the floor Thursday evening to voice her “strong opposition” to Pruitt, the Oklahoma attorney general who has sued the EPA 13 times. The excoriation came hours after a state judge ordered Pruitt’s office to release more than 2,500 documents and emails about his communications with energy companies during his tenure.
“I rise today to express my strong opposition to President Trump’s nomination of Scott Pruitt,” Warren said at the outset of her speech. “The reason is simple: In a choice between corporate polluters and people who want to breathe air and drink water, Scott Pruitt sides with the corporate polluters. He has no business as head of the EPA.”
The Senate is scheduled to vote on Pruitt’s nomination Friday afternoon, just days before the documents and emails are made public. An incredulous Warren demanded senators be given access to the communications to make an informed decision on the nomination and called for a bipartisan effort to ensure “access to clean air and clean water [as] a basic right for all Americans.”
“Their plan is to jam this nomination through tomorrow, four days before the emails are slated to become public. Are you kidding me?” she asked. “If those emails show corruption, every senator should have that information before, not after, they vote to put someone in charge of the EPA who may be there for years.”
Clean air and clean water used to be a nonpartisan issue. In earlier decades, leaders in both parties had the courage to say no to suffocating smog and towering plumes of toxic chemicals poisoning our children. Republicans and Democrats came together, and together they declared that access to clean air and clean water is a basic right for all Americans.
We passed the Clean Air Act, we passed the Clean Water Act … we did those things together.
Many leading Democrats have also expressed outrage over the vote.
Trump picked the worst group of cabinet nominees in the modern history of America. But EPA nominee Scott Pruitt is the worst of the worst.
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) February 16, 2017
Republicans are forcing through Scott Pruitt’s nomination while he refuses to answer @EPWDems' questions. We object! Americans object!
— Senator Tom Carper (@SenatorCarper) February 16, 2017
Pruitt’s nomination has prompted widespread fear among environmentalists and staff currently at the EPA. Since 2002, Pruitt has received more than $300,000 in contributions from the fossil fuel industry, and on his LinkedIn page, he lists himself as “a leading advocate against the EPA’s activist agenda.”
This week, nearly 800 former agency staffers signed a letter in protest of his nomination. The letter called Pruitt “a close ally of the oil and gas industry [who] has made a career of suing EPA and attacking the idea of federal action to reduce pollution ― while simultaneously failing to enforce environmental laws in his own state and shutting down the Environmental Protection Unit in the Oklahoma Attorney General’s Office.”
Warren echoed these fears and what she called Pruitt’s continual support for “his friends in the oil industry … to heck with everybody else.”
“Those big polluters have their fantasy EPA nominee, someone who will work on their side and not on the side of the American people.”