Pruitt Likely to be Confirmed as EPA Administrator

Despite a grueling six-hour hearing on Wednesday, DC insiders appear reasonably confident that Scott Pruitt, the former Attorney General for Oklahoma, will be confirmed as the next EPA Administrator.  Democrats have conceded that they likely won’t have the votes to block the confirmation.  This is not to say, however, that they won’t continue to demand answers for their concerns.
During the hearing, Senate Environment & Public Works Committee Democrats, led by Ranking Member Tom Carper (DE), closely questioned Pruitt on his positions relative to climate change science.  Pruitt responded by agreeing that “the climate is changing, and humans contribute…but the ability to measure the degree and precision of that impact are subject to continuing debate and dialogue as they should be.”  When pressed further, Pruitt said that his personal opinion was not relevant to the discussion.
In his testimony, Pruitt said that he will focus on three core philosophies – the rule of law, cooperative Federalism, and public participation.  In speaking about the Agency, he stated that regulators needed to remain balanced and not show preference for any sector.  He emphasized the need for continued partnership with the states that are responsible for rule implementation and have great expertise in environmental matters.  He also strongly encouraged public participation as part of EPA’s direction.
The only drinking water reference of note was when Pruitt said that he’d expect a faster response should EPA ever face another crisis like the one in Flint, MI.
The Senate Committee is expected to vote on the nomination next week and final Senate confirmation is expected to happen during the week of January 30.