US Senate confirms industry stooge to head Environmental Protection Agency
Daniel de Vries
18 February 2017
The US Senate voted Friday to confirm former Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to head the Environmental Protection Agency. Pruitt was approved with 52 votes in favor and 46 against in a near-party-line ballot. Democrats Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota broke ranks, joining Republicans in support of Pruitt. Maine Republican Susan Collins voted along with the remaining Democrats against the confirmation.
Pruitt is part of a slate of right-wing, anti-regulation ideologues nominated by President Donald Trump and approved by the Senate for top positions within the executive branch. He has no environmental qualifications apart from his strident opposition to the agency he now leads. As Oklahoma attorney general, Pruitt filed at least 14 lawsuits challenging the authority of the EPA to regulate industry.
As head of the EPA, Pruitt will lead an effort to gut anti-pollution requirements for American businesses. He will also oversee an attempt to dramatically shrink the EPA’s current workforce of 15,000.
Of 22 cabinet-level appointments, only labor secretary nominee Andrew Puzder has thus far failed to garner enough support for Senate confirmation. He withdrew Wednesday after opposition emerged within the Republican Party in the face of accusations of domestic violence and his hiring of an undocumented immigrant. Eight nominees are still awaiting committee hearings or approval votes.
The ability of the Republican Party to push through two-thirds of Trump’s nominees to date, forming a cabinet of billionaires, ex-generals and social reactionaries, is in large part due to the half-hearted and duplicitous character of the…