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senate confirmations

Kirsten Gillibrand to EPA nominee Scott Pruitt: 'I need you to care about human health'

During an emotional line of inquiry Wednesday, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) tore into Donald Trump's nominee for the head of the EPA, Scott Pruitt, demanding he prioritize human health over cleanup costs to polluters.

"I need you to care about human health," Gillibrand demanded, "and really believe that the cost — when human health is at risk, when people are dying — is far higher than ... the cost to that polluter to clean up the air. I need you to feel it, as if your children sitting behind you are the ones in the emergency room."

Pruitt has long been an outspoken enemy of the EPA, and his nomination has raised the alarm among Democratic senators as well as environmental groups. "Scott Pruitt's antipathy for holding polluters accountable in his own state is a bad sign for things to come across America if he's given the reins at the EPA," the president of the nonprofit Environmental Working Group, Ken Cook, told State Impact. "The EPA's job is to protect public health, not let industry off the hook for polluting our rivers and drinking water."