Inhofe Speaks on Senate Floor in Support of Scott Pruitt for EPA Administrator

WASHINGTON—U.S. Sen Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), senior member of the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) committee, today spoke on the Senate floor in support of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt for Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator.

Pruitt floor speech

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Remarks as prepared for delivery:

  Mr. President, today I speak to you about my friend and fellow Oklahoman, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt. As you all know, he has been nominated by President Trump to be the next administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.

 It is my understanding that my colleague on the other side are determined to run out the clock before we vote on Attorney General Pruitt and are using the opportunity to make the case that he will destroy the environment, returning pollution to our air and water.

 I know he will do nothing of the sort.

 Attorney General Pruitt is a highly qualified candidate and will make for an exceptional EPA administrator. He is a believer in the rule of law and will uphold the laws as passed by Congress, within constitutional bounds. He has built a career in defending the rule of law and I see no cause for concern that he will stop once confirmed.

 He has been practicing law in Oklahoma since 1993, when he graduated from law school at the University of Tulsa. In 1998, he ran and was elected to the Oklahoma State Senate where he served for six years. During his time in the state Senate, he was seen as a leader and someone who could be counted on. Since 2010, he has been the attorney general of Oklahoma and became a respected defender of the state’s role in our federal system of government.

 As EPA administrator, Pruitt will continue to uphold core constitutional principles and will not be engaged in the same federal overreach we’ve seen the last eight years. And this is likely what my Democrat friends are most concerned with.

 Over the last eight years, the Obama administration’s EPA has been sympathetic to their left-wing policies and when these policies stall out in Congress, the EPA was happy to push forward through regulations without clear Congressional authority.

 Attorney General Pruitt has said time and again that he will uphold the laws we pass right here in Congress. No more, no less.

 It is up to us, as lawmakers, to provide him with effective, bipartisan legislation that will make a positive difference for the environment and our future while balancing state and private interests. This balance is possible and Scott Pruitt is a testament to that balance.

 Although Oklahoma is an energy and agriculture state, we still care a great deal about the land we live on and the air we breathe, and want to be sure it is safe for our families and generations to come.

 As attorney general, Pruitt has worked closely with the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality and the Oklahoma Water Resources Board to protect Oklahoma’s Scenic Rivers from upstream pollution. He was able to use unbiased logic and science to reach an agreement with Arkansas to protect our water in Oklahoma.

 He has also been instrumental in negotiating a historic water settlement agreement between the state of Oklahoma, Oklahoma City, and the Chickasaw and Choctaw Nations. This is a water battle that has gone on in one form or another since the turn of the 20th century—that’s over 100 years. One of the chief concerns of the Chickasaw and Choctaw Nations was to ensure that conservation guidelines were preserved. The agreement not only provides Oklahoma City with long-term access to a vital drinking water source, but it upholds the tribes’ conservation goals.

 This is the balance I was referring to between environmental, state and private interests that can be found and Scott Pruitt has a track record of achieving. While, yes, he has sued the EPA and fought against the Fish and Wildlife Service at times, it has all been in Oklahoma’s best interest. Now he will have the entire nation’s best interest in mind when making decisions as EPA Administrator.

I have no doubt he will continue to protect state interests from overreach and unnecessary, harmful regulations.

 It’s no secret that Attorney General Pruitt’s confirmation process has been unnecessarily lengthy and it is time we vote to confirm him to this position. We had his nomination hearing in the Environment and Public Works Committee back on Jan. 18, almost a month ago.

 That hearing was one to remember because we broke the record by asking him four rounds of questions. This is more than any other nominee had to face. During the course of the day-long, eight hour hearing, he answered more than 200 questions. After this, he responded to more than one thousand questions for the record, including the extra questions Sen. Carper asked him a Dec. 28 letter, as Attorney General Pruitt promised he would.

 This means that he answered 1,000 more questions than any EPA Administrator nominee in the last 3 Presidential Administrations. I think we’ve put him through enough.

 Despite Democrat efforts to delay his confirmation vote, we need to be responsible and move forward to confirm Attorney General Pruitt. The longer we postpone this vote, the longer it is going to take for things to get done at the EPA, which will not help anyone.

 I know that Attorney General Pruitt will continue to be a champion for economic development and environmental responsibility, while upholding the law and restoring the Environmental Protection Agency to its role as a regulatory agency, not an activist organization.

 I look forward to congratulating Attorney General Pruitt on his confirmation soon. He’s waited long enough.