Click here to watch Chairman Barrasso’s remarks
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW), delivered the following remarks on the Senate floor urging his colleagues to confirm Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Barrasso’s remarks focused on the need for change at EPA, as well as Attorney General Pruitt’s qualifications to lead the agency.
Senator Barrasso’s remarks:
“I rise today to speak about the nomination of Attorney General Scott Pruitt to be administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.
“Mr. President, Scott Pruitt is the right person to run the agency – and we need to confirm him.
“Over the past eight years, the political leaders of the EPA have taken actions that have undermined the American people’s faith in the agency.
“They have pushed broad and sweeping regulations that have hurt our economy and have failed to protect our environment.
“These regulations include the so-called Clean Power Plan.
“This is a rule that would kill job growth in states like Indiana, Wisconsin, Ohio and my home state of Wyoming.
“They also include regulations defining the term ‘waters of the United States.’
“This was a classic example of Washington overreach.
“The agency brought irrigation ditches, plowed farm fields, and even parking lot puddles under federal control.
“With both of these rules, dozens of state governments have had to take Washington to court. Why? To try to stop the crippling effects of these regulations.
“This agency’s outrageous actions have extended beyond these rules and have had real consequences for many American families.
“According to the Chamber of Commerce, since 2008, this regulatory rampage by the EPA has destroyed 19,000 coal-mining jobs nationwide.
“In Kentucky, nearly 4 out of every 10 coal-mining jobs have disappeared over the past eight years.
“Ohio and Pennsylvania have each lost more than 1,000 fossil fuel electric power jobs, during that same period.
“In West Virginia, 5,200 coal-mining jobs have vanished just since 2011.
“The total cost of all this new red tape from the Environmental Protection Agency is more than $300 billion.
“The leadership at the EPA has failed because a lot of their regulations are bad ideas.
“That’s not the only way the political leaders at the agency have failed.
“They’ve actually hurt people and damaged the environment directly.
“In 2015, more than 3 million gallons of toxic wastewater spilled into the river at the Gold King Mine in Colorado.
“The government agency charged with protecting our environment actually caused this spill and poisoned a river.
“This was a direct result of negligence on the part of the Environmental Protection Agency.
“This plume of toxic liquid flowed downstream to New Mexico and polluted the Navajo Nation’s main source of drinking water and irrigation water.
“In the final days of the Obama administration, the EPA then denied $1.2 billion in damage claims from farmers, Native American tribes, and small businesses impacted by the EPA’s own negligence.
“In Flint, Michigan, old pipes and improperly treated water caused lead poisoning in children.
“When the leadership at the EPA learned of the issue, they failed to respond in a timely manner.
“The regional EPA administrator actually resigned following the incident.
“For the last eight years, the political leaders of this agency have been reckless, irresponsible, and arrogant.
“Change is badly needed at the Environmental Protection Agency and Scott Pruitt will be that change.
“Mr. Pruitt has served as Attorney General of the state of Oklahoma since 2011, six years.
“He has worked to protect the environment in his state, while also working for the benefit for all of the people of Oklahoma.
“He’s taken on polluters – and worked across party lines to do it.
“When poultry farmers in Arkansas were increasing phosphorus levels in the Illinois River that runs between the states, he worked with Arkansas’ Democrat Attorney General on a solution.
“They found a way to reduce pollution and establish permanent standards.
“Former Arkansas Attorney General McDaniel, a Democrat, he called Pruitt a “staunch defender of sound science and good policy as appropriate tools to protect the environment in his state.”
“Scott Pruitt also helped negotiate a water rights settlement between tribes in Oklahoma.
“The deal will help preserve scenic rivers and lakes, so they can be enjoyed for generations to come.
“He’s also stood up to industry when they’ve caused pollution.
“That’s why the entire Oklahoma congressional delegation has endorsed his nomination.
“He has been an advocate for the environment in Oklahoma – and he has been an advocate for the environment in Washington.
“When the Environmental Protection Agency overstepped its mission, Attorney General Pruitt led the charge to rein in government overreach.
“Time after time, Scott Pruitt worked with other states to challenge the agency when it exceeded its authority.
“Under his leadership, this agency will respect the rule of law.
“Attorneys general from 24 states have endorsed Scott Pruitt as someone who can protect the environment, while also protecting state decision-making.
“He’s also won the support of small businesses and farmers around the country.
“Groups like the National Federation of Independent Business, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Home Builders, the American Farm Bureau Federation, and many others have voiced their support for Mr. Pruitt.
“As chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, I take the nomination process very seriously.
“Our committee thoroughly vetted Mr. Pruitt.
“We held a confirmation hearing that lasted more than six hours.
“That is by far the longest confirmation hearing for an EPA administrator on record.
“During this hearing, Attorney General Pruitt was asked more than 200 questions by members of the committee.
“We had four rounds of questions, it’s an unprecedented number.
“Our Democratic colleagues on the committee noted during the hearing how fair the process was.
“They said how much they appreciated the opportunity to ask so many questions.
“After the hearing, committee members submitted another 1,078 written questions to Mr. Pruitt to answer for the record.
“Again, that’s the most for a nominee to be the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, ever.
“His answers were thoughtful, and they were thorough.
“That’s why I was disappointed to see the Democrats on our committee decided to boycott the meeting to vote on the Pruitt nomination.
“The minority complained that he didn’t answer enough questions.
“Democrats have even complained that he has not been vetted thoroughly enough.
“Mr. President, that’s ridiculous.
“Scott Pruitt is the most thoroughly vetted nominee we’ve ever had to lead this agency.
“Democrats are using delaying tactics to slow down the confirmation of many of the administration’s most important nominees.
“These boycotts and these delay tactics do nothing to protect our environment or the health of Americans.
“Democrats are engaged in nothing more than political theater.
“They are wasting time, while the Environmental Protection Agency needs a new administrator.
“Attorney General Pruitt has protected the environment in his home state; he is endorsed by his peers, and has been thoroughly vetted for the job.
“He will make an excellent EPA administrator.
“It is time for the Senate to confirm him.”