Pruitt narrowly confirmed to head EPA over Democratic objections
Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt was narrowly confirmed Friday afternoon to lead the federal agency he built a career fighting. The Senate voted 52-46 to install Pruitt as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, after a heated debate. While Democrats have blasted the nominee for his push to roll back regulations and his past statements challenging the science behind climate change, his bid more recently was complicated by a dispute over documents. On the eve of his confirmation, Pruitt was ordered by an Oklahoma judge to hand over thousands of emails between his office and fossil fuel companies like Koch Industries and the National Coal Council to the Center for Media and Democracy, which requested the collection of emails in 2014. CMD is accusing Pruitt and the Oklahoma attorney general’s office of ignoring multiple open records requests. Oklahoma County District Judge Aletia Haynes Timmons said “there was an abject failure to provide prompt and reasonable access to documents requested.” As of Thursday night, the attorney general’s office had provided only 411 of the more than 3,000 emails CMD requested. The 411 emails were turned over earlier this week. The open records request was made two years ago. Pruitt’s office maintains they have done nothing wrong and that they handle requests on a “first-come, first-served system.” Democrats used the developments to push for a delay in Pruitt’s confirmation vote but were repeatedly denied. “Scott Pruitt and Senate Republicans have made a mockery of the confirmation process, permitting the nominee to escape scrutiny and hide his deep ties to the fossil fuel industry,” Sierra Club Legislative Director Melinda Pierce said in a written statement. “What is he hiding in all of these emails?” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell slammed efforts to postpone it as another delay tactic by Democrats that was “unprecedented, harmful and pointless.” “It’s one thing to obstruct to get some outcome, really these are a collection of futile gestures, not changing the outcome of these nominations,” he said from the Senate floor Friday.
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