WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), senior member of the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, today made remarks at the a committee business meeting to consider the nomination of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt’s nomination to be administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA.) Democrat members boycotted today’s business meeting.
Remarks as prepared for delivery:
Thank you Chairman Barrasso, Ranking Member Carper and colleagues for this opportunity. As you all know, my friend, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt has had quite a rough time since his day-long nomination hearing in this committee. Do you realize that we put him through four rounds of questions? That’s more rounds of questions than any other nominee.
In addition to that, he answered 206 of our questions over the course of the eight hour hearing. That was just the beginning of it though because once the hearing was over, our friends on the other side of the dais submitted 1,078 questions for the record, including the extra questions Senator Carper asked Pruitt in his Dec. 28 letter, as Pruitt promised he would. This means that he answered 1,000 more questions than any Administrator nominee in the last 3 Presidential Administrations.
Last week, the EPW Democrats held a shadow hearing inviting partisan environmentalists to talk to each other.
Yet, even with all of the unnecessary questions and the Democrat shadow hearing, Pruitt continued to talk with Ranking Member Carper by phone on Monday for thirty minutes answering even more questions.
I know about this this phone call and no new questions were asked—none.
Ranking Member Carper asked the same recusal questions asked at the Jan. 18 nomination hearing even though he has a letter from EPA Career Ethics employees stating Pruitt has satisfied all ethics requirements and has entered into the same recusal agreement as former Administrator Lisa Jackson. The other side just happens not to like their answer.
Ranking Member Carper complained that Pruitt’s description of the Illinois River agreement was wrong. Pruitt has negotiated the first enforceable limit on phosphorus in the Illinois River. It’s simply a fact.
He complained about Pruitt’s answers whether EPA controlling Mercury from power plants alleging Pruitt opposes it simply because he was on the winning side of Michigan v. EPA where the Supreme Court found EPA didn’t bother to consider the costs of EPA’s own rules, contrary to the law.
Finally, he complained about answers to nine questions out of 1,078 where Pruitt had to refer to the process under Oklahoma’s Open Records Act to get a comprehensive response to the question.
Let me provide some examples of Democratic member questions whether or not referral to the Open Records Act was appropriate:
- Senator Cardin’s 29th question: “Please provide all communications you had had with representatives of agricultural and other companies regarding water quality litigation between Arkansas and Oklahoma.
- Senator Carper’s 119th question: “For each listed matter in which the State of Oklahoma has been a litigant or petitioner against the EPA, please provide any and all documents (including any and all written or electronic correspondence, audiotapes, electronic records, videotapes, photographs, telephone messages, voice mail messages, e-mails, facsimiles, daily agendas and calendars, information about meetings and/or discussions, whether in-person or over the telephone, agendas, minutes and a list of participants for those meetings and/or discussions, and transcripts and notes of any such meetings and/or discussions) from the date on which your office first began to prepare the litigation at hand, to the date of this letter, between you (or other employees of your office) and each representative of each non-governmental entity with whom you (or your office) communicated about the litigation.”
- Senator Markey’s 61st question: For each year since 1995, (that’s 22 years of record) please provide information regarding the State of Oklahoma’s environmental enforcement efforts specifically:
- descriptions of each environmental enforcement action (including investigations and enforcement proceedings) initiated by the AG’s office, including the date the action was initiated, the name of the subject of the action, and the nature of the action and environmental violation that led thereto, the annual budget, the number of employees, AND
descriptions of each environment enforcement action (including investigations and enforcement proceedings) that was closed, including a description of the resolution of the matter, whether a fine or penalty was levied (and if so the amount of such fine or penalty), whether non-monetary remedies were required (and if so, what), and whether a criminal prosecution was initiated in the matter (and if so what the resolution of the prosecution was).
- Senator Whitehouse’s 84th and 85th questions: Please list all matters you or your office has had with the US Department of Interior or the EPA since you became Attorney General of Oklahoma. For the purposes of this and the following questions, “matters” refers to lawsuits (including lawsuits in which your office filed a “friend of the court” brief), enforcement actions, investigations, rulemakings, or any other matter which included an adjudication between parties.