Cantwell Holds Senate Floor to Stop Pruitt Nomination

Cantwell: state economy depends on clean air and water, healthy salmon habitat, sound environmental stewardship

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) took to the Senate floor to deliver a speech in opposition to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) nominee Scott Pruitt. Cantwell is urging fellow senators to vote ’NO’ on the nomination, citing Pruitt’s denial of the human causes of climate change, his disdain for the agency's missions, and his record of siding with big polluters over the public interest.

Cantwell expressed particular concern over Pruitt’s record attacking environmental regulations, regulations that have protected Washington’s environment and powered the state’s economy. Of particular concern to the Senator are Pruitt’s ties to efforts to pursue the proposed Pebble Mine, which poses a direct threat to thousands of Washington and Alaska fishing jobs.

“As E.P.A. administrator, Mr. Pruitt would have the responsibility for setting the agency's agenda, including how to respond to climate change,” said Cantwell on the Senate floor. “And yet the fact that he doesn't support the existing climate change science puts him in a role where I think he would not protect these economic interests of our state. We cannot have a lackadaisical attitude about these issues. [Climate change] is not a hypothesis. It is here. It is happening.”

Earlier today, Cantwell sent a letter to Pruitt with 29 other senators demanding he recuse himself from participating in any matter related to litigation that he pursued against the EPA as Oklahoma Attorney General. The senators wrote that the ongoing lawsuits raised doubts on whether Pruitt could execute his duties as administrator with impartiality.

Cantwell also noted the bipartisan legacy of the EPA Administrators’ steadfast commitment to the agency’s work, including Washington state native Bill Ruckelshaus as the first administrator of the EPA under President Richard Nixon. The Senator questioned whether Pruitt was capable of continuing that proud tradition.

“Bipartisan administrators of the Environmental Protection Agency, everybody from a great Washingtonian, Bill Ruckelshaus, to Gina McCarthy, took on the role as EPA Administrator knowing it was their responsibility to protect existing environmental law and to let science be the guide on research and new policies,” said Cantwell. “I have questions about whether the nominee, Mr. Pruitt, follows those same values, and I come to the floor to oppose his nomination as Administrator of EPA Mr. Pruitt has repeatedly attacked needed EPA regulations and he supports polluters at the expense of the environment and health laws. And he doesn't believe that scientifically proven issues of climate change are real.”

Pruitt’s ties to the Pebble Mine in Bristol Bay, Alaska also drew criticism from Cantwell. As Attorney General of Oklahoma, Pruitt brought other attorneys general together with energy executives to plot the dismantling of environmental regulations, including those preventing the potentially catastrophic Pebble Mine from moving forward. Cantwell is the leading opponent of the Pebble Mine in Congress, fighting to protect the 14,000 jobs, $1.5 billion in economic activity, and invaluable wildlife habitat that are only possible a healthy Bristol Bay. 

A transcript of the speech is available here.