The U.S. Senate has confirmed former Oklahoma attorney general Scott Pruitt to head the Environmental Protection Agency.
The controversial nominee was confirmed by a 52-46 vote. Notably, Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, voted against President Donald Trump’s selection, while Democrats Joe Manchin III and Heidi Heitkamp from coal-rich West Virginia voted in Pruitt’s favor.
Democrats had attempted to stall Pruitt’s confirmation by asking Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., to reschedule the confirmation voting until next week, when Pruitt’s office has been ordered to release thousands of electronic communications with members of the coal, oil and gas sectors.
Now confirmed, Pruitt brings a degree of uncertainty to the EPA after spending years butting heads with the federal agency. Throughout his career, Pruitt has often treated the EPA as an adversary, suing the agency 14 times as a state attorney general for everything from climate change standards to issues of regulatory authority.
Pruitt’s selection reflects a number of campaign statements made by Trump, including a promise to “get rid of [the EPA] in almost every form” to combat what he called the Obama Administration’s “war on coal”.
Obama’s White House not only saw the introduction of the EPA’s Clean Power Plan — which seeks to reduce America’s greenhouse gas emissions by increasing renewables and limiting fossil fuels — but also guarantees of the U.S.’ participation in the Paris Agreement.
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