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Congressman Lowenthal Raises Concerns About EPA Nominee Pruitt

Pruitt’s denial of basic science facts and conflicts of interest troubling

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Washington, D.C., January 17, 2017 | comments

In a letter to California Senator Kamala Harris, Congressman Alan Lowenthal (CA-47) today raised concerns about President-elect Donald Trump’s nomination of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to head the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Senator Harris will question Pruitt during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee tomorrow.
   The text of the letter, delivered today and also copied to California Senator Diane Feinstein, reads:

Dear Senator Harris,

California, as one of the largest economies in the world, has worked closely with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on a number of pollution rules and standards that protect the health and safety of California families.  California also benefits greatly from the numerous U.S. EPA programs and Federal-State partnerships that provide funding to our communities to clean up polluted industrial sites, make our water systems more resilient, reduce unhealthy ozone levels in our cities, limit climate-damaging carbon pollution, and help keep our world-famous beaches clean. 

Tomorrow, as a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, you will have the opportunity to review the nomination of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to head the U.S. EPA.  As you prepare your questions for the confirmation hearing, I write to express my concerns, and the concerns of my constituents, about Mr. Pruitt’s fitness for the office of U.S. EPA Administrator and his ability to set aside political dogma in order to carry out the mission of the U.S. EPA.

Specifically, Mr. Pruitt’s history of denying basic scientific facts that underpin major regulatory initiatives at the EPA is troubling.  For example, Pruitt authored a May, 2016, National Review op-ed in which he said that, “…global warming has inspired one of the major policy debates of our time. That debate is far from settled. Scientists continue to disagree about the degree and extent of global warming and its connection to the actions of mankind.”  Nothing could be further from the truth. Numerous surveys of thousands of climate researchers and their scientific literature have found that the level of consensus that human activity is primarily responsible for the warming climate is as high as 97 percent.  

In addition, the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s fifth assessment report in 2013 said: “It is extremely likely that human activities caused more than half of the observed increase in GMST [global mean surface temperature] from 1951 to 2010. This assessment is supported by robust evidence from multiple studies using different methods.” According to the report, “extremely likely,” means that the likelihood of an outcome is between 95 percent and 100 percent certain.

Mr. Pruitt also has numerous conflicts of interest that should be dealt with before a vote on his confirmation happens.  Mr. Pruitt is currently involved in 14 active lawsuits against the U.S. EPA, the agency he seeks to lead.  He has close ties to many of the industries the U.S. EPA regulates, including an active Super-PAC funded by many of those industry leaders.

My hope, and the hope of my constituents, is that the next U.S. EPA administrator will guide the EPA in continuing to help states like ours achieve a healthier, safer environment for all by listening to and accepting sound scientific opinion, and considering the immense societal benefits that come from cleaning up our air and water rather than only considering the costs to industry.  I urge you to ask Mr. Pruitt if he is up to that task, and if he is not, I urge you to oppose his nomination. 

Sincerely,
Alan Lowenthal
Member of Congress

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