WASHINGTON — U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), a senior member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW), released the following statement announcing his opposition to the confirmation of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt as Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. Senator Cardin participated in the questioning of Mr. Pruitt at the January 18 committee hearing. Responses to written “questions for the record,” or QFRs, were returned in the last week.
“After a personal meeting, reviewing documents, and hours of testimony by Mr. Pruitt, I remain concerned as to whether he truly believes in the EPA’s basic mission, which is to protect public health and the environment—air, water and land. An effective EPA Administrator must believe in the mission of the agency. It is still unclear to me, after repeatedly suing and criticizing the EPA, why Mr. Pruitt now wants to lead this agency.
“We also do not know which Scott Pruitt wants to become the EPA Administrator – the one who testified before the EPW Committee committed to support multi-state solutions to improve the health of the Chesapeake Bay, or the one who sued to stop such cooperation happening thousands of miles away from his own state of Oklahoma.
“Before the EPW committee, Mr. Pruitt agreed that he does not believe climate change is a ‘hoax’ the same way his potential boss, President Trump, does. But in written responses to questions, Mr. Pruitt fell back on cliché climate-denier language on ‘continuing debate’ about human contributions to climate change. In fact, there is little debate in the scientific community about climate change. Mr. Pruitt’s documented actions also have shown hostility toward the need to reduce carbon pollution and programs designed to reach that goal. Reducing carbon emissions is the number-one way to address the impact of climate change. I cannot support a nominee for such a critical public health position who denies the sum of empirical science and the urgency to act on climate change. Too much is at stake.
“After the nationwide spotlight on Flint, Mich., which I understand is not in Oklahoma but likely a news story covered in every newspaper and on every television station in the country, I was taken aback at Mr. Pruitt’s lack of knowledge about the dangers of lead. As an elected official charged with protecting the people of his state, I expected a much more strident position on the dangers of lead. He should know that the safe level of lead for children is zero. A key premise of the Safe Drinking Water Act, and one which the EPA enforces, is that no amount of lead is safe. EPA has a role to play in ensuring that our children are not exposed to lead, and we need the EPA to enforce our water standards to make sure lead does not contaminate our water supply.
“I had hoped to take Mr. Pruitt’s hearing commitments at face value, particularly where he breaks with President Trump’s promises to dismantle our bedrock environmental protections, but his written responses to committee questions, coupled with his previous legal activism against clean air and clean water, paint a much different picture. The Chesapeake Bay, clean water and clean air are too important to the future of Maryland.”