Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt sat before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on Wednesday for his confirmation hearing as President-elect Donald Trump's nominee for administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. As Oklahoma's top litigator, Pruitt has sued the very agency he now seeks to lead several times, and during his hearing Wednesday he said he intends to use the EPA to regulate through "cooperative federalism."
Some Republican senators questioning Pruitt echoed his view that the public distrusts the EPA due to overreach and over-regulation. As ABC News points out, Pruitt has "gained a reputation as a pro-business attorney general who believed strongly in the rights of states to set their own limits on environmental matters," and on Wednesday he did little to indicate he would change that stance as a federal regulator. When pressed by Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) on whether he would continue an EPA precedent that grants California the right to set its own stronger regulations with regard to vehicle pollution, Pruitt said he would "review" the matter but declined to say outright whether he intends to uphold it.
Pruitt declared his EPA would adhere to the "rule of law" and that he would focus on restoring the public's "trust" in the federal government. He also expressed a desire for EPA officials to "be seen as partners, not adversaries" and for the agency itself to "provide more assistance to states," National Journal's Jason Plautz reports.
Huffington Post contributor Wajahat Ali noted that Pruitt has referred to himself as "the leading advocate against the EPA's activist agenda."