U.S. Senate Confirms EPA Nominee Advances Commerce Nominee CSPAN February 16, 2017 1:59pm-4:00pm EST
environment and public works committee, i met with the majority leader. nine of us wrote to the majority leader, and he said with all due respect, we would suggest that give the judge time to make a decision, and if the judge says the e-mails should be opened up to allow us to have until a week from this coming monday to look at e-mails and to see if there is anything inappropriate, untoward that could be revealed. and that request, the majority leader -- he was very nice about it, but he basically said we're not going to do that. i renewed the request here yesterday on the floor, and he said no, we're not going to do that. i'm generally one to thinks it's real important for us to communicate, collaborate, cooperate around here, as i think most of my colleagues would attest, but in this case, i don't think we've made an unreasonable request of the nominee, and i think to block access to these e-mails, even
when petitioned under the oklahoma foia law, backed up by i.r.s. support, for nothing to happen, that's just wrong. that's just wrong. so hopefully when the judge has this hearing later today, later this afternoon, actually in about two hours, they will find out a bit more, whether or not he will be asked to turn these e-mails over, make them public information. and i hope the answer will be yes, we'll see. we'll see. i'd also say that the number of questions that we asked of mr. pruitt, i asked him 52 questions on the letter on december 28. it has to be responded to by january 9. january 9 came and went, and we were told maybe we would get the responses on -- at the hearing
that we were going to have for him on january 18. we have gotten -- we had the hearing on january 18, and the specific questions were answered, some not. but we submitted as a committee some 1,000 additional questions for the record. that's a lot of questions. i suggested to the committee chairman that he give the nominee a reasonable amount of time to respond to those questions, and the chairman in the interest of moving things along, i think he gave the nominee two days, which is, in my view, not nearly enough. if you go back several years ago, the last e.p.a. administrator was a woman named gina mccarthy, and she was asked a number of questions. she was actually asked more questions, i think 1,400 questions, which is maybe several hundred more than scott pruitt. a lot of questions. and she did not have enough time to answer the questions and a
little bit of extra time, maybe a week or so, was granted. she answered the questions, as i understand it, fully, completely, directly, and i'll have to be honest with you. i'll read some of the questions that we asked of scott pruitt later today, later tonight, and with examples of the kind of answers he provided. some were reasonably complete, but too many were evasive, indirect or just nonresponsive. and that's -- maybe that's because the chairman only gave him a couple of days to respond. that's not the way we ought to do business around here. and with that, mr. president, i yield the floor and i see we have been joined by a former governor from the great state of new hampshire. mrs. shaheen: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from new hampshire. mrs. shaheen: mr. president, i came to the floor today to oppose the nomination of scott pruitt to serve as administrator
of the environmental protection agency, and i want to thank my colleague from delaware who i had the honor to serve with when we were both governors for his good work to point out why scott pruitt is the wrong person to head the environmental protection agency. the e.p.a. was created by a republican president in 1970, richard nixon. i remember very clearly when he did that. and across intelligent decades, support for this agency and for its important -- across subsequent decades, support for this agency and for its important mission has been as bipartisan as ever. support for highly effective administrators from both parties. but i am deeply concerned that scott pruitt is a radical break from this bipartisan tradition. after reviewing mr. pruitt's environmental record, i have to ask why was he nominated for
this critically important position? he rejects the core missions of the environmental protection agency. at every turn, he sued the e.p.a. to block protections for clean air and clean water. he's an outspoken climate change denier. he seeks to dismantle the e.p.a.'s clean power plan which was put in place to address climate change. and he opposes other efforts to slow the warming of this planet. time and again, he has put private interests and their profits ahead of the public interests and public health. as attorney general of oklahoma, he sided with oil and gas companies, and he's failed to protect the people of his state from some of the worst impacts of hydraulic fracturing. he's taken hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from fossil fuel industries, and he's zealously
advocated for their freedom to pollute our air and water. so again, i ask why was scott pruitt nominated to serve as administrator of the environmental protection agency? well, i think it's clear that mr. pruitt was nominated not to lead the e.p.a. forward but to prevent it from carrying out its mission. and make no mistake, mr. pruitt and his extreme agenda are a threat to the environment, to the planet and to our public health. christine todd whitman, who is a former republican governor of new jersey and who i also had the honor of serving with when i was governor, senator carper and christie whitman and i all served as governors together. she also was e.p.a. administrator during george w. bush's administration, and what she said about pruitt i think is worth listening to.
this is a republican talking about scott pruitt, and i quote. she says i don't recall ever having seen an appointment of someone who was so disdainful of the agency and the science behind what the agency does, end quote. well, people in the state of new hampshire have no doubt about the reality of climate change. in the granite state, we see it, we experience it all the time. the steady increase in yearly temperatures and the rise in annual precipitation are already affecting new hampshire's tourism and our outdoor recreation economy, which accounts for more than $4 billion a year and employs over 50,000 people. each year, hundreds of thousands of sportsmen and wildlife watchers come to new hampshire to enjoy our beautiful mountains, our lakes, our other natural resources, our 18 miles of coastline, which we're very
proud of, and hunting, fishing and outdoor recreation contribute more than $4 billion, as i said, to new hampshire's economy each year. but much of this is now threatened by the warming of our planet. rising temperatures are shortening our fall foliage season, they are negatively affecting our snow and ice-related winter recreation activities, including skiing, snowboarding and snowmobiling, and an estimated 17,000 granite staters are directly employed by the ski industry in new hampshire. and the new hampshire department of environmental services warns that those jobs are threatened by climate change. and likewise, new hampshire and indeed all of new england's brilliant fall foliage is at risk. i want to quote from a report by new hampshire citizens for a responsible energy policy.
they say current modeling forecasts predict that maple sugar trees eventually will be completely eliminated as a regionally important species in the northeastern united states. climate modeling by the union of concerned scientists projects that by the end of this century, new hampshire summers will feel like present-day summers in north carolina, 700 miles to our south. we've got a map here that shows what's going to happen to our red maples and the maple sugaring industry. so we can see everything here that's in red. these are all those sugar maples and projected by 2070 or 2100, they're gone. they're gone from new england, from the northeast and for most of the eastern part of this country. if we fail to act on climate change, this could mean a steep
loss of jobs, it would mean a loss of revenue, it will destroy our minneapolis sugaring industry, and it will damage our outdoor recreation industry. maple sugar production is entirely dependent on weather conditions, and changes, no matter how modest, can throw off production and endanger this industry. maple trees require warm days and freezing nights to create the optimal sugar content and sap production. the changing climate is putting more and more stress on sugar maples, and as this map shows so well, it's already significantly affecting syrup production if we fail to act on climate change, this could destroy our maple syrup industry. and if you haven't done maple sugaring in the springtime, there is nothing like maple syrup over snow. there is nothing else like it. and to lose that, to lose the
jobs that are there is a real change to one of the recreational activities that we love in new hampshire. climate change is also threatening our wildlife species and their habitats. the moose is an iconic feature of new hampshire's culture and identity, but as the results of climate change, we have seen a 40% decline in new hampshire's moose population. and you can see really clearly from these pictures why we're losing our moose. because of milder winters, ticks don't die off, and it's really very tragic. the ticks multiply on a moose, they ravage it and they eventually kill it. i don't know if people can see, but those look like little balls on the end of that moose's tail. those are ticks. this moose probably has brain worm, which is another problem that the moose have because of
winters that aren't cold enough to kill off those parasites. ticks multiply on a moose, they ravage it, and they eventually kill it. we have seen modeling from the university of new hampshire that suggests that by 2030, moose will be gone from -- not only from northern new hampshire but from much of the northern part of this country. other newly invasive insects are harming wildlife species as well as trees, and of course people are also suffering from the impacts of climate change. rising temperatures increase the number of air pollution action days. they increase pollen and mold levels outdoors as well as allergen levels inside, and all of these things are dangerous to sensitive populations with asthma, allergies and chronic respiratory conditions.
in fact, new hampshire has one of the highest rates of childhood asthma in the country because we are the tailpipe, all of new england is the tailpipe for the rest of the country. pollution blows across this country from the midwest and it exits through new hampshire and new england. and rising temperatures facilitate the spread of insect-borne illnesses such as lyme disease. we could see on that moose what the impact is. let's put the moose back up there. well, those ticks aren't just multiplying on the moose. they're multiplying in a way that affects people as well. and fortunately, because we've seen the impact of climate change, new hampshire and the other new england states are experiencing -- are taking the lead in reducing carbon emissions and transitions to a more energy-efficient clean energy economy. we are one of nine northeastern states that are participating in the regional greenhouse gas
initiative called r dp. gi. it's -- called rggi. new hampshire has already reduced its carbon sector pollution by 49% since 2008. that's a 49% reduction in less than a decade. and thanks to efforts by state and local communities, new hampshire is on track to meet the clean power plan's carbon reduction goals ten years early. in addition, we're using proceeds from emissions permits sold at rggi auctions to finance clean energy and energy efficiency investments. well, unfortunately, scott pruitt seems to believe that reducing pollution and investing in a clean environment are somehow bad for the economy. well, he's just wrong about that. our efforts in new hampshire and across new england to fight climate change and promote clean energy have been a major pooft
to economic growth. we've seen jobs added as a result. during its first three years, rggi produced $1.6 billion in net economic value and created more than 16,000 jobs in our region. nationwide, employment in the fossil fuel sector is falling dramatically, but job creation in the clean energy and energy efficiency sectors is exploding. according to the u.s. department of energy, more than two million jobs have been created in the energy efficiency sector alone, and if we could ever get congress to move the energy efficiency legislation that senator portman and i have introduced would create by 2030 another 200,000 jobs, just on energy efficiency. across new england, we're demonstrating that smart energy choices can benefit the environment and strengthen job creation and the economy overall. so again, we have to ask why
does scott pruitt deny the science of climate change? why has he urged states to refuse to comply with the clean power plan? why has he filed lawsuit after lawsuit to block enforcement of the clean air act? why does he deny something as nearly universal recognized as the dangers of mercury pollution? the bottom line, i believe, is that scott pruitt is first and foremost a fierce defender of the oil and gas industry. scientists point to carbon emissions as the main point of climate change, then he has to deny that science. if science and common sense point to hydraulic fracking as the cause of thousands of earthquakes in the state of oklahoma, he must deny that too. if the e.p.a.'s mission is to prevent clean air and clean water pollution caused by fossil fuels, he has to sue the e.p.a.
and try to quibble it. scott pruitt's nomination is not about shaking things up in washington. it's about turning over control of the e.p.a. to the fossil fuel industry and turning back the clock on half a century of bipartisan efforts and democratic and republican administrations alike to protect clean air and clean water and to pass on to our children a livable environment and an earth that they can inhabit from future generations. mr. president, my office has been flooded with calls, with e-mails and letters from granite staters. they not only oppose mr. pruitt's nomination, they are genuinely afraid of the consequences of putting him in charge of the e.p.a. i heard from deb smith from hamilton, new hampshire. that's a small community on our coastline. she wrote that, quote, i'm a birder, love to walk on the beach and in the mountains and rely on time spent in nature to
cope with a lung cancer diagnosis. clean air is especially important to me. pruitt's long history of suing the e.p.a. and reversing decades of progress and improving the environment disqualifies him from this post, she writes. it's essential to continue to preserve and improve our natural environment for people, birds, and other wildlife. end quote. elizabeth garlow of concord writes, new hampshire, due to quirks in its geology and the earth's rotation is the tailpipe of the nation, with much of the air pollutants from the midwest exiting to the ocean from here. the people of new hampshire cannot sit back and watch our children suffer from asthma and be restricted from outside activities due to bad air quality days. mr. pruitt will be a very significant detriment to the quality of life in new hampshire. end quote.
and eugene harrington of nashua writes, i'm against the appointment of scott pruitt to head the e.p.a. he does not seem to support the purpose of the e.p.a. now i hear that even scientific papers are being reviewed to be sure they support the current administration's view of facts. and he has facts in quotes. please do what you can to support a funk shunchg -- a functioning e.p.a. christopher writes this is the first message i have ever sent to my senator in 32 years as a voting american. as a registered republican i am vehemently opposed to mr. pruitt leading the e.p.a. he has consistently shown he dobbs not believe in the threat -- he does not believe in the threat posed by climate change. climate change has a detriment effect on new hampshire climate specifically. president trump's willful
disregard for the safety and protection of all americans cannot go unchecked. end quote. let me emphasize that i've heard from many republican constituents who oppose scott pruitt's confirmation. my republican friends point with pride to the fact that the e.p.a. was created by a republican president. after all, what could be more conservative than conserving our environment and preserving a livable earth for future generations? for nearly half a century, protecting the environment has been a bipartisan priority and endeavor. that's especially true in the state of new hampshire, where folks understand that clean air and water and fighting climate are not and should not be partisan issues. we all have a profound stake in protecting the environment. unfortunately, with the nomination of scott pruitt to head the e.p.a., the trump
administration is willing to shatter this bipartisan tradition and consensus. and we must not allow this to happen. i appeal to all of my colleagues, but especially to all of those on the other side of the aisle. don't allow this nominee to destroy your party's hard-earned reputation as a champion of commonsense efforts to protect clean air, clean water and a sustainable earth. i urge us to come together, senators on both sides of the aisle, to reject this effort to undo nearly five decades of bipartisan efforts to protect our environment and our planet. the stakes are incredibly high for all of us. by rejecting this unsuitable nominee, we can reconsider our approach to the e.p.a. we can embrace this nation's bipartisan commitment to protecting the environment for future generations.
this is what the great majority of americans want us to do. let's listen to their voices and let's say no to this nominee, scott pruitt, who is not only not qualified for this position, he is not committed to the e.p.a. and its mission. mr. president, at this point i would yield 30 minutes of my postcloture debate time to senator schumer. the presiding officer: the senator has that right. ms. hassan: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from new hampshire. ms. hassan: mr. president, thank you. i rise today honored to speak after my colleague from new hampshire and joining my other colleagues in opposing the nomination of oklahoma attorney general scott pruitt to serve as
the administrator of the environmental protection agency. mr. president, our beautiful natural resources define my home state of new hampshire. from the white mountains to the sea coast to our pristine lakes and our forests, our natural resources are critical to our economy, our environment, our way of life. and protecting these resources plays a critical role as well in protecting public health. however, we are already beginning to see the real impacts of climate change in new hampshire. and these impacts threaten to have major consequences for our natural resources and families and businesses in every corner of my state. recognizing that fact, members of both parties have come together in new hampshire to enact commonsense bipartisan
solutions to take on climate change and to grow and maintain our state's renewable clean energy sector. and we have worked to protect our land, our air and water, and the health of our citizens. unfortunately, it is clear from mr. pruitt's opposition to the agency he will be tasked to lead, his record of working to weaken critical environmental protections that our citizens need to thrive and his unwillingness to fight climate change that he is unfit to serve in this position. mr. president, the mission of the environmental protection agency begins with protecting our environment and the health of all of our citizens. the e.p.a. does critical work to protect the water that we drink and the air that we breathe. and in recent years the e.p.a.
has used sound scientific evidence to take strong measures to protect our environment. unfortunately, president trump has made clear that he does not support this critical agency. throughout his campaign, the president has repeatedly attacked the e.p.a., calling for its elimination and saying that our environment would be -- and this is his quote -- just fine without it. and the president has doubled down on his hostility towards this agency by nominating mr. pruitt to serve as its administrator. as attorney general, mr. pruitt has been a vocal critic of the very agency he has now been nominated to lead. and he has been involved in over 20 legal actions against it. according to "the washington post," mr. pruitt has, quote,
spent much of his energy as attorney general fighting the very agency he is being nominated to lead." close quote. on social media, mr. pruitt has referred to himself -- and this is a quote -- as a leading advocate against the e.p.a.'s activist agenda. he has questioned the role of the agency, stating, quote, the e.p.a. was never intended to be our nation's front-line environmental regulator. and when asked by one of my colleagues if there were any clean air or clean waters e.p.a. regulations in place today that he could support, mr. pruitt declined to name a single one. mr. president, the foundation of a future where all americans have an opportunity to thrive starts with a healthy environment and healthy families, and e.p.a. serves an
important role in protecting the health of our people. we must do better than having an administrator who has fought so tirelessly to undermine the work that this agency does. mr. president, i'm also concerned by an e.p.a. administrator who has consistently voiced skepticism about the clear facts on climate change. throughout my time in office, i have always fought to protect our environment and have been a strong supporter of curbing the impacts of climate change. as a state senator, i sponsored legislation that allowed new hampshire to join the regional p greenhouse gas initiative and i helped pass the state's renewable portfolio standard to maintain and grow new hampshire's clean renewable energy sector. and during my time as governor, i worked with members of both parties to strengthen and build on those efforts, signing legislation to update the
renewable portfolio standard and to maximize the benefits of the greenhouse, regional greenhouse gas initiative. i'm proud that my state has long led efforts to cut carbon emissions and it's crucial that other states follow our lead and take responsibility for the pollution that they cause. that's exactly why i'm a strong supporter of measures like the clean power plan. i also strongly support the paris agreement on climate change and believe that the united states must take action to implement the agreement while also ensuring that our international partners fulfill their obligations. mr. pruitt, however, has been a consistent skeptic on the role of climate change and the roach that it has had on our environment. mr. pruitt has stated that we do not know the extent of human impact on climate change and has called climate change a natural occurrence. he has said that climate change
is, here's a quote, one of the major policy debates of our time. and he continued, quote, that debate is far from settled. scientists continue to disagree about the degree and extent of glornlg -- global warming and its connection to the actions of mankind. mr. president, scientists are clear in their understanding of the climate change science. the american association for the advancement of science says the scientific evidence is clear, global climate change caused by human activities is occurring now and is a growing threat to society. the american geophysical union said humanity is the major influence on the global climate change observed over the past 50 years. the american meteorological society says it is clear from extensive scientific evidence that the dominant cause of the rapid change in climate of the
past half century is human-induced increases in the amount of atmospheric greenhouse gases. the intergovernmental panel on climate change says warming of the climate system is unequivocal and human influence on the climate system is clear. mr. president, the e.p.a. is a science-based organization. and it is unacceptable for the e.p.a. administrator to be at odds with the well-established views of the leading scientists. as the agency's own web site says, and this is a quote, e.p.a. is one of the world's leading environmental and human health research organizations. science provides the foundation for agency policies, actions and decisions made on behalf of the american people. our research incorporates science and engineering that
meets the highest standards for integrity, peer review, transparency and ethics. mr. pruitt disagrees with well-established climate science. simply put, that disqualifies him from leading an agency where, quote, science provides the foundation for policies, actions, and decisions. if you refuse to believe research from the world's leading scientists, you cannot lead a science-based agency. mr. president, from protecting our environment to protecting public health, the e.p.a. plays a critical role in protecting the health of granite staters and all americans and we know that a cleaner environment plays a key role in the economy -- for
the economy of new hampshire and our entire country. and we should be building on the critical efforts the e.p.a. has taken to combat climate change and protect public health, not rolling them back. mr. pruitt's hostility to the basic functions of the environmental protection agency and his work to undermine protections for clean air, land, and water make clear that he should not serve in this role. i will vote against mr. pruitt's nomination and i urge my colleagues to do the same. thank you, and i yield the flo floor.
mr. markey: mr. president, i rise to speak about mr. pruitt as the nominee for the administrator of the e.p.a. when scott pruitt was asked about critical issues, mr. pruitt said no to the public works committee when democrats asked our fellow republicans to delay mr. pruitt's vote until he got that important information, the republican leadership here said, no, we won't wait for that critical information so that all senators and the american people can understand who is being nominated. when i asked scott pruitt if he
would recuse himself from all issues related to the cases that he has brought against the e.p.a. as oklahoma attorney general, scott pruitt said no to me. well, today we are here to respond to these very serious issues that are being raised about his ability to be an impartial administrator of the e.p.a. because the question before the american people and the senate is whether or not scott pruitt should be the administrator of the environmental protection agency and that answer is no. the e.p.a. is our cop on the beat, protecting the american people, and our environment from
harmful pollution, hazardous waste, and the impacts of climate change. but as attorney general of oklahoma, scott pruitt has tried to undermine the clean water rule and clean air act putting the public health of millions of americans at risk. scott pruitt questions the science of climate change. scott pruitt has accused the e.p.a. of overestimating air pollution from drilling of natural gas wells in oklahoma. scott pruitt has argued against president obama's clean power plan which the e.p.a. is supposed to implement. scott pruitt has sued to block the e.p.a. from restricting mercury, a toxin that causes brain damage in children in the united states.
the only thing that scott pruitt is certain of is that he wants to represent the interests of the fossil fuel fossil fue -- i. today we are drawing the line out here on the senate floor because it's critical that the american people understand the moral implications for the water americans drink, for the air which they breathe, for the mercury that could go into the blood systems of children in our country, for the amount of smog that is allowed to be sent into the air, the amount of haze which is created across our country, and why the nomination of scott pruitt leads inevitably
towards more pollution, more unhealthy air, more unhealthy water going into the systems of our families across our country. and that really goes to what the moral duty is of the united states senate. the moral duty is that we have two ordinary families across the country. do americans really think that the air that we're breathing is too clean? do people really believe that the water which we drink is too clean? do people really want to water down those standards? do they want to reduce the safeguards that we have put in place? 100 years ago life expectancy in the united states was about 48 years of age. in other words, we had gone from
the garden of eden all the way to about one00 years -- 100 years ago and we had increased life expectancy to 48 years ago. not much progress. it was always good for the wealthy. they could protect themselves from the things that would affect ordinary families, poorer families from the bible to 100 years ago. but then what happens? all of a sudden there was an awakening in our country that we had to make sure that the sewage systems in our country were not going to be able to pollute families across our society. and then step by step, beginning with sewage and water, we came in our nation to understand that we had to remove the majority of pollutants that were out there
that were damaging the lives of ordinary americans. that was a change that transformed not just the united states, but over time, the whole rest of the world. so now, 100 years later, life expectancy now goes up to age 80. in other words, we have added 32 years of bonus life to the average american over the last 100 years. what did it? well, it's no secret formula. it's just that we looked around and we saw the things that we had to put in place in order to protect families, and we took a moral responsibility to make sure that those industries especially who were not providing protections were forced to provide protections for those ordinary families. so here we are now considering scott pruitt as the new
administrator of the environmental protection agency. here's what mr. pruitt has done as the attorney general of oklahoma. he has sued the national environmental protection agency for the state of oklahoma 19 times. and the issues on which he has sued are almost a litany of the things that go right to the heart of the protections which the american people want for their families. now, there are still eight cases that he brought pending before the e.p.a. i said to scott pruitt in the confirmation hearing -- i said, attorney general pruitt, will you recuse yourself from
consideration of any of those eight pending cases during the time that you are the administrator of the e.p.a. if you are confirmed? and mr. pruitt said no. well, as i said to him in the hearing, if you do not recuse yourself, mr. pruitt, that turns you into the plaintiff, the defendant, the judge, and the jury for all of those cases, and that is just an unconscionable conflict of interest. and as a result, he would never be seen as an impartial yacht administrator -- impartial administrator at the e.p.a. as he tried to move forward to repeal protectionings with regulations that -- protections with with regulations that he initially sought to accomplish
through litigation. we know, across the country overwhelmingly, that the american people want in the highest possible polling numbers -- democrat and republican, liberal and conservative -- they want the e.p.a. to protect clean air, clean water, public health. they don't want children unnecessarily being exposed to pollutants in the atmosphere that can cause asthma. those numbers are going up. the goal in america is to see the numbers go down, but that will not be the agenda that scott pruitt brings to the e.p.a. if he is, in fact, confirmed. this question of his fitness for this job also goes to the question of climate change.
the science of climate change is now well established. it is something that pope francis came to the capitol a year and a half ago to deliver his sermon on the hill to us. and what pope francis said to us is very simple. number one, that the planet is dangerously warming and that it is something that is being caused by human activity largely and that those who are going to be most adversely affected are the poorest and most vulnerable in our society and that -- as the pope said -- we have a moral responsibility to do something
about it as the most powerful country in the world, and along with kho*eupb, the leading -- china, the leading polluter in the world. this is pope francis talking to us about climate change. what does scott pruitt say about climate science? he says that he is not quite certain that any actions really have to be taken in order to deal with that issue. well, we have a pope who actually taught high school chemistry and who delivered a science and morality lesson to the united states congress. he told us that science is certain and he told us that our moral obligation is unavoidable if we had a nominee for the environmental protection agency that embraced that science and morality, i would be voting for him. but that's not who scott pruitt
is. he's ignoring the impact which the fossil fuel industry is having and he is unwilling to commit to taking steps that can reduce that changer for our planet, for the most vulnerable on the planet. so i stand in opposition to his nomination, as i will be standing out here all day and into the night. i don't think that we're going to have a more important discussion than the direction of the health of our planet, the health of the children in our country. and i think it's something that the american people have to hear all day and through the night. and with that, mr. president, i see the arrival of the senator from ohio, and i know that he has time here to speak on the senate floor, so i would like
to just yield back my time so my good friend, senator portman can be recognized. mr. portman: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from ohio. mr. portman: i thank my colleague for yielding his time. i ask unanimous consent that barbara repetta be granted floor privileges through december 31. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. portman: mr. president, i rise today to talk about this issue of opioids, prescription drugs, it is at epidemic levels. we worked on these issues last year in a bipartisan way and made progress but i come to the floor today to report bad news and report something congress could do to help address a new problem. there was a report recently that came out by the u.s.-china commission. very disturbing. it said that there is a new influx of what's called fentanyl coming in from china. this is a synthetic form of heroin. it can be up to 50 times more
powerful than heroin. think about that. the report says, and i quote, the majority of fentanyl products found in the united states originate in china. chinese law enforcement officials have struggled to eradicate the facilities operating in the country leading to export of the production of illicit drugs. chinese exporters covertly ship these drugs to the western hemisphere. that comes from an official report from this commission on u.s.-china. it's confirmed, unfortunately, back home. so i was home this week meeting with law enforcement on monday, and they told me, rob, the top issue in our community is now is not heroin. it's fentanyl, this sympathetic form of heroin that is far more powerful. and at least in their minds they think that it is also more effective at making people addicted because it is less
expensive and the trafficking of it is more aggressive. so this is a big concern because we are finally, i thought, making some progress on the prescription drugs and the heroin and now this fentanyl, carfentanil, u-4, goes by various names depending on the chemical compounds are coming into our communities. it's truly scary. the cons convinces are, i -- the consequences are obvious now, losing one american every 12 minutes. this speech will be 12 minutes. we'll lose another american to an overdose. it's getting worse, not better. it's everywhere. in 2016 every single state in the union had at least one forensic lab test positive for fentanyl. according to the centers for disease control the number of positive fentanyl tests doubled from 2004 to 2015. we know it's worse for 2016 from the information we have. even this year, this month and a half we have seen more and more evidence of fentanyl coming
into our communities. according to the china commission's report the top designation for chinese fentanyl is my home state of ohio. we have more positive tests for fentanyl than any other state. by the way, massachusetts, to my colleagues who has been involved in this issue and worked on this issue and helped to try to stop the overprescribing of prescription drugs, massachusetts was number two. and we're talking 3,800 positive tests for fentanyl in ohio alone. i do believe that this is something that's being confirmed at the local level not just because of my meeting on monday but because of what i'm hearing from around the state. two days after the commission's report came out in butler county ohio police seized $100,000 in fentanyl laced heroin after it is suspected it killed five people in two days. drug overdoses in butler county have nearly tripled since 2012. when i was in dayton, i met with the dayton range, which is a task force, a law enforcement
task force, regional agency narcotics and gun enforcement task force, they told me this is now their biggest problem and they said because it's stronger there are more overdoses and more deaths than there are with a similar amount of heroin or number of people using heroin. they said that just over a two-week period they seized more than 40 pounds of drugs off the streets, including 6 pounds of fentanyl last week. six pounds of fentanyl, as i do the math, is at least 20,000 doses. 20,000 doses in one town in ohio. i want to thank montgomery county sheriff plumber of the task force and all the law enforcement for their work in getting this poison off the streets but they need additional tools. they told me about a 14-year-old girl who had tried fentanyl for the first time. she had never tried apparently any other drug, and she snorted it. the people she was with had snorted drugs before. she had not. which is one reason she had an
overdose. she died immediately. and at 14 years old, her promising life was cut short. it was in the dayton suburb of eanon a little more than a week ago that a five-year-old boy was seen running down the streets yelling mom and dad are dead! a driver saw the boy, called the police, went to his house, found his parents. they weren't dead but they were unconscious. mom was on the kitchen floor, dad on the living room floor. his skin had already turned blue which is a sign of someone who overdoses and is close to death. the first responders heroically saved both of them using narcan, miracle drug that reverses the effects of an overdose. it took six doses of in a -- nalaxone. six doses. we saw a 37% increase in drug
overdose deaths last year in dayton, ohio. victims as old ation -- as 87 and young as two years old. drug overdose deaths on pace this year to be more dramatic. 235 people have had their lives saved with the drug, the dayton's volume went up compared to last january. not getting better. getting worse. it's not just dayton. it's not just cities. this addiction knows no zip code, disturbs, rural areas -- suburbs, rural areas, inner cities. in northeast ohio, there are overdoses which doubled from 2015 to 2016. north of dayton in a rural county they are on pace to quadruple last year's number of drug overdoses already this year. so why are these increases happening? one of the reasons is because of the increasing potency of these drugs on the street,
particularly again this move of, from heroin to synthetic it's more powerful. dayton paramedic david gersner puts it this way. i don't want to say our overdose rate increased dramatically. the potency of the drugs increased to the point that instead of patients needing 2 milligrams of narcan, we have had patients who need 20 milligrams or more. again, many doses of narcan to be able to save these lives. in dart county which is north of dayton, the rescue chief brian phillips says with the introduction of new illegally made synthetic opiates, heroin users are overdosing at a more rapid rate. these derivatives are more potent and deadly. the majority of overdoses are not breathing and sometimes in complete cardiac arrest. we're using more narcan to resuscitate these patients. this is the word from those who are in the trenches dealing with this every day.
it's not good news. in just the week of, first week of february, by the way, in his department in dart county, ohio, they had 12 overdose calls in the first week of february. this is a town of 13,000 people. so it's clear that these drugs are getting on the street that are stronger, more addictive, more dangerous. heroin is already addictive enough. and relatively inexpensive compared to prescription drugs which is why many people move from prescription drugs to heroin, probably four to five hernl addicts in -- heroin addicts in ohio started with prescription drugs according to experts. now it is being laced with this synthetic drug. the ohio bureau of criminal investigation tested 34 cases of fentanyl in 2010. in p 2015 they tested a 30-fold increase. last year that number doubled again to 2,400 cases and again they have already tested for a
record-breaking number this year in the last month and a half. according to the ohio substance abuse monitoring network, you can buy small doses of heroin and fentanyl for as little as $5 to $10 in southwest ohio. a lot of parents and family members of those struggling with addiction are worried about this and it's very easy to see why. as the corner in butler county said, quote, buying heroin today is like playing russian roulette. people don't know what's in the product they're going to use and it may not be the same from one use to the next. the a cor row ner said if you buy heroin you may be playing with your life because it's more dangerous than ever. we've got to get that message out there. we've not done a good job of communicating this message. dr. richard marsh, dart county coroner says we're seeing more heroin than fint nil.
-- fentanyl now. there are lots of labs producing it which is 50 times more powerful. how powerful is that? according to the d.e.a., drug enforcement administration, it takes only two milligrams of fentanyl, about the same as a pinch of salt. think about that. to kill you. that's how powerful it is. so again, going back to this china commission report, they say most of these synthetic drugs are being made in labs in china and being shipped to the western hemisphere, to our country, to our communities. how is it coming in? people are surprised to learn that it's coming in through the mail system. these deadly poisons are coming in through the mail system. so unlike heroin which primarily goes over land, primarily from mexico, these drugs are actually coming in from asia, from china and india through the mail system.
unlike the private mail carriers like ups or fedex, our mail system does not require that people say where the package is coming from, what's in it or where it's going. i think people are kind of surprised to hear that too. that of course makes it easier for the traffickers and much harder for our law enforcement to be able to deal with this problem. they can't scan these packages that are suspect for drugs like fentanyl or other smuggled products because there's just too many packages, millions of packages. but if they had that information, if that was required on every package, electronically in advance, digitally, this data, where it's coming from, what's in it, where it's going, our law enforcement officials tell us they'd have a better shot at being able to stop this poison, to be able to identify those packages. i applawpped my colleagues because -- applaud my colleagues because with the cures act passed at the end of last year, we provided much more funding to our community, strictly to our states, $500
million going out our states to be able to deal with the issue of drug treatment and recovery services. that's very important. that $500 million, by the way, is this year and next year. that's really important to fight the epidemic. i also of course applaud my colleagues with regard to the legislation called cara, comprehensive addiction and recovery act. this provides us with not diswruft more funding but better practices with regard to prevention, education, treatment and recovery and providing the police with narcan training and more narcan reresources to our first responders. in the last year congress has taken some important steps forward and i commend the house and senate for that. by the way, it was bipartisan from the start. and i think that's beginning to make a difference. i wish the programs in the comprehensive addiction recovery act could be implemented more quickly. there's still more five cara grant programs yet to be implemented and many of us
pushed the last administration. now we're pushing this administration to move quickly on that. this crisis is out there now. we need the help but we're getting that in place and it's important. we now need to build on those efforts because of this synthetic heroin coming in. an obvious step to me would be to simply say that the postal service has to require what the private carriers require so these traffickers aren't favoring the postal service and so we can begin to stop some of this dangerous synthetic drug from coming into our communities, but also so that we can give law enforcement a tool to be able to target and so that at a minimum we can increase the cost of this poison coming into our communities. it seems common sense to me. last week senators klobuchar, hassan, rubio and i introduced legislation called the synthetic trafficking and overdose prevention act, or stop act. we just introduced it two days ago. is simply closes the loophole and requires the postal service to obtain advance electronic
data along the lines i talked about. where it's from, where it's going. in the house there's companion legislation which makes it easier to get this done because the house also understands this problem. my colleague, congressman pat tieger from ohio is one of the people who is focused on this, one of the cosponsors. the other onñ -- the other one is from massachusetts. their companion legislation will make it easier to get this done. this bill is totally bipartisan. in fact i'd call it nonpartisan. it is based on expert testimony we had before our homeland security committee where we heard directly from law enforcement. it is a simple change that would make it much easier for them to detect these packages, and particularly those from chinese labs that the commission report talked about. iit is not aville certificate bullet. no one has that silver bullet. but our bill will help restrict the supply of these drugs, this poison in our community, making the prices harder and harder to
get. with the threat of heroin getting greater every day, i would urge my colleagues to join us. join thus this legislation, cosponsor it and let's get this through the committees, the finance committee would be taking up this legislation. i'm on that committee. i hope they will move very quickly to mark it up, to get to to the floor, to pass the legislation here in the united states senate, combine it with the legislation that's working through the house, get it to the president, to his desk for signature, and to begin to provide some relief to our communities from this influx of these sympatheti synthetic heroe continuing to tear our families and communities apart and ruin lives. this is about ensuring that young people, like the young people who are with us today -- the pages on the floor -- have the opportunity to pursue their dream, whatever it is. this is about ensuring that we are stepping up as the united states congress to deal with a global problem. it's coming in from overseas. certainly this is one where the
united states congress ought to act to ensure that our united states postal service does the right thing to help law enforcement be able to better protect our communities. i thank you, mr. president, for the time. and i yield back. mr. president, i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: and the clerk should call the roll. quorum call:
mr. reed: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from rhode island. mr. reed: mr. president, thank you. i would ask unanimous consent to dispense with the calling of the roll. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. reed: thank you, mr. president. i rise in strong opposition to the nomination of scott pruitt to be the administrator of the environmental protection agency. president trump has made it clear that he wants to savage environmental protections and his administration has already started down this path of reversing some of our hard-fought progress to be sure we have a clean environment, clean water, fresh air. by nominating mr. pruitt, president trump has chosen someone equally hostile to the very notion of defending our environment and our nation's health. respected voices on bodge sides of the aisle -- on both sides of the aisle have expressed similar alarm over his nomination. president george w. bush's
former e.p.a. administrator christine todd whitman, who led the agency from 2001 to 2003, stated in reference to mr. pruitt, i don't recall ever having seen an appointment of someone who is so disdainment of the agency and the science behind what the agency does. this is a sentiment i have heard from over a thousand rhode island,environmentalists, kefertionists -- conservationists, who agree that mr. pruitt is a troubling choice for this role. they have contacted my office to express how distressed they are that someone with mr. pruitt's record and background could be chosen to lead the e.p.a. last woke i host add round table to hear these concerns directly from my constituents. these rhode islanders shared their worries about the state of our changing environment, anxiousness about mr. pruitt's nomination and concerns about what they had seen so far and fears coming with respect to the
trump administration's approach to our environment. nevertheless, they remain committed to ensuring had that we have clean air and clean water because these resources are so important to our economy and health an. i have scantsly voted for strong environmental policies that promote renewable energy and mitigate the effects of climate change. the e.p.a. overseas the federal government's role in protecting our health and environment. it needs a leader who fundamentally believes in its core mission. scott pruitt has a record of working against the agency's goals to protect americans from pollution. that's the goal of the agency. he does not believe or respect the scientific findings regarding climate change and has close ties to the oil and gas industry. these kinds of beliefs and views should be of concern to everyone on in this chamber.
as oklahoma's attorney general, mr. pruitt sued the e.p.a. multiple times seeking to eliminate pollution regulations. hay as record of not only challenging the legal, scientific, and technical foundations of e.p.a. rules, but he has also questioned the e.p.a.'s authority to issue them. mr. pruitt filed as the plaintiff in these lawsuits, many of which are still pending. if confirmed as the e.p.a. administrator, he would be switching sides to become the defendant in these lawsuits. and yet he has refused to recuse himself from any of these related cases. he has also failed to provide records of his communications with fossil fuel companies during the years he served as attorney general. it is abundantly clear that he cannot be impartial. this lack of transparency regarding mr. pruitt's connections to the oil and gas industry raises serious questions about what influence these conflicts will have on his ability to enforce regulations
that protect everyday americans from the pollution generated by fossil fuel use. the e.p.a. administrator must be someone who will uphold and enforce federal environmental laws impartially and honorably with americans' health in mind. one issue in particular that comes to mind is one i have worked on for decades across multiple federal agencies -- lead poisoning. i have long advocated for better federal policies and for funding to protect children from lead products. while the centers for disease control and prevention do much of this work, the e.p.a. plays an important role as well. i think we saw that very clearly over the last year with the situation in flint, michigan. i was deeply concerned that when asked about lead poisoning among children during his confirmation hearing, mr. pruitt told the committee that he, in his words, really wasn't familiar with the basic science around the health
effects of lead poisoning. for the sake of his education 0en this issue and to make all my colleagues who might not be aware of the impact, lead poisoning in children can cause serious and irreversible developmental and health problems. we need an e.p.a. administrator who is familiar with and committed to protecting the health of our children from these and other kinds of environmental health hazards. unfortunately, i do not believe that mr. pruitt is qualified to do so. during his confirmation hearing, mr. pruitt also displayed a lack of understanding of the role human activity plays on climate change, as well as a disregard for the scientists who have spent their lives studying and carefully observing our earth's changing climate. our next e.p.a. administrator should understand the threat of climate change and base the agency's policies on scientific findings without ideological influence. many people across the nation
were distressed and deeply concerned by the removal of climate change reports from the e.p.a. web site shortly after president trump took office. i share that concern. and i am disturbed that the e.p.a. has recently put a hold on issuing new grants and instituted a gag order on all communications. this is alarming. the halting of federal funds means that our investment in our water infrastructure, in remediation of our watershed and other environmental initiatives vital to our communities and states will be affected. and this could seriously harm environmental protection efforts. in rhode island, these cuts could have devastating effects such as hindering the state's ability to provide clean air and drinking water for all residents. we need an administrator who is committed to providing clean air and water and who is experienced
in environmental protection. this role would be for someone who is prepared to defend our environment from harm, who can make decisions based on scientific evidence and whose financial ties will not impact his decisions when it comes to protecting the american public from pollution. scott pruitt is not the e.p.a. administrator we need. the nature of the lawsuits he filed attempting to dismantle e.p.a. regulations that protect clean air and water, the very regulations he would be charged with enforcing demonstrate that he is not committed to defending our natural resources, our health, and our well-being. mr. pruitt in my estimate is unsuit and unqualified for this position. for these reasons, i cannot support this nomination, and i urge my colleagues to join me in voting no. mr. president, i would respectfully yield the remainder of my time on this nomination to my colleague senator shell done whitehouse of -- senator sheldon
whitehouse of rhode island. with that, mr. president -- the presiding officer: that will take unanimous consent. mr. reed: i would request unanimous consent that i be allowed to yield the remainder of my time to the gentleman from rhode island, senator whitehouse. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. reed: thank you, mr. president. with that, i would yield the floor. mrs. murray: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator are washington. mrs. murray: i come to the intoer to urge my colleagues to vote no on the nomination of scott pruitt to lead the environmental protection agency, a nomination that marks yet another broken promise from the new president to put the needs of american families first over the wishes of big corporations and special interests. the and just like we have seen with betsy devos at the department of education or steven mnuchin at treasury, we have yet another trump nominee whose record demonstrates a direct conflict with the mission of the agency they wish to lead.
on the e.p.a.'s web site, that mission is pretty clear. to protect human health and the environment, and e.p.a. achieves that by enforcing regulations based on laws cast by congress. so, mr. president, i will be voting no on this nomination, and i want to make two points. why mr. pruitt heading up the earp would be wrongdoing wrong for our country and why it would be wrong for the families i represent in washington state. it starts with his record and clear conflicts of interest. during mr. pruitt's term as the attorney general for oklahoma, he filed no less thank 19 cases to overturn environmental regulations, including one to topple the e.p.a.'s clean power plan. these regulations specifically seek to protect public health by
reducing harmful air and water pollution and are projected to save tens of thousands of lives each year. now, as if that wasn't bad enough that mr. pruitt spent so much time filing lawsuits in court and fighting policies designed to protect the health of the environment as well as people, it's pretty shocking that at the same time he was collecting millions of dollars from the very industries he would regulate if he's confirmed. this is no small conflict of interest between his former and potentially future position and that he was still nominated to be e.p.a. administrator is mind-blowing to me. and i echo the sentiments of so many who have expressed serious concerns about mr. pruitt's conflict of interest, that his ties to the fossil fuel industry make him more indebted to
backing policies that loosen environmental regulations benefiting big oil and gas companies rather than backing policies that protect american people and, mr. president, i want to voice another concern my constituents have shared with me. it is unnerving to think the president would choose a climate change denier to set our national environmental policy. i don't see how someone who has openly denied the existence of climate change with the devastating effects of what we're already beginning to see in washington state and around the country that will effectively protect human health or the environment, and this is about more than just the environment. -- a report by the congressional budget office last year found that climate change is a serious threat to our economic stability. as the occurrence of national disasters -- natural disasters continue to rise, the cost of
disaster assistance and reimilding rises, too. if we want to be responsible about tackling our fiscal challenges, which i would think the president and mr. pruitt would agree on, we need to take the impacts of climate change seriously. at a time where we are already seeing the very real effects of climate change in my home state from longer, more devastating wildfire seasons to ocean acidification and rising sea levels, it's more important than ever. and this brings me to how mr. pruitt's confirmation would be devastating for my home state of washington. as someone personally who spends a great deal of time fishing and hiking in my home state of washington, i am committed to conservation and preservation efforts so that generations to come can appreciate the high quality of life that we enjoy and experience the splendor of america's natural spaces. one of the most important being the restoration and recovery of
salmon runs and habitat throughout the pacific northwest, which is a vital part of our northwest economy and its heritage. and, mr. president, i am deeply concerned about whether this support would continue under an e.p.a. administrator like mr. pruitt. i have similar concerns about hanford cleanup, a critical part of our state's history that e.p.a. plays a very important role in to protect the health and safety of our tricity's community, columbia river and washington state. so, mr. president, i will fight against any e.p.a. nominee or an administrator who will not join us in the fight for a better future for generations to come. i sincerely hope the president and mr. pruitt truly understand the enormous responsibility of the environmental protection agency not only in protecting our environment for future generations, but for the families we represent who rely
on clean air and clean water right now. so for the sake of our children and grandchildren, we need to act now to avoid lasting, irreversible damage for our health, for our environment, for our economy and our country's future. and i am not confident in putting that future into scott pruitt's hand. thank you, mr. president. and i yield the remainder of my postcloture time to senator carper. the presiding officer: senator carper can receive 21 minutes of that time. mrs. murray: i would ask additionally that the yield the remainder of my time beyond that in postcloture debate to senator schumer. the presiding officer: the senator has that right. mrs. murray: thank you very much. i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: senator reed. mr. reed: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent to vitiate my previous request and reclaim my time. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. reed: thank you, mr. president. and i would note the absence of
mr. casey: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from pennsylvania. mr. casey: thank you, mr. president. i ask that the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection exception -- without objection,so ordered. mr. casey: thank you, mr. president. i rise this afternoon to speak in opposition to the nomination of oklahoma attorney general scott pruitt to be the next administrator of the environmental protection agency, which we all know is the e.p.a. my concern, i have a number of them, but principal concern regarding mr. pruitt's nomination is rooted in his record, which i believe is totally inconsistent with or in conflict with the mission of the e.p.a. that mission is to protect human health in the environment. we know that the e.p.a. achieves this core goal through the
development and the enforcement of standards to protect children and families from exposure to dangerous pollutants in our air and water. protecting human health means ensuring that our children have clean air and clean water, tackling climate change which leads to the kind of food insecurity that causes malnutrition in children throughout the world. i have to say that as a pennsylvanian, i think i have a, an obligation to not only speak about these issues but to fight on behalf of policies that will advance not only the mission of the e.p.a., but will be consistent with the directive i'm obligated to follow in my state's constitution. we in pennsylvania have had, if you go back to the founding of
pennsylvania forward, we had many generations especially through the beginning of the industrial revolution throughout most of the 1800's and into the 1900's until about the midcentury point where we didn't do a very good job of protecting our air and our water, in protecting human health because we let one or other industry pretty much do whatever they wanted until the modern era. fortunately since that time pennsylvania has made a lot of progress. one of the best measures of that progress and something that i believe i'm bound by is a provision in the state's constitution. article 1, section 27, it says the people shall have a right to clean air and pure water and to the preservation of the natural scenic, historic and aesthetic values of the environment. that constitutional provision goes on to talk about each of us as citizens of the commonwealth
of pennsylvania being trustees of the environment, and especially and evermore so if you're part of state government. and i would argue the federal government as well. so to say that i feel an obligation is a major understatement. so that, i think i'm bound by that, and that enters into my determination, my analysis of mr. pruitt's record. we know that in recent years the e.p.a. acting under the authority is granted through laws like the clean air act and the clean water act has developed a number of important standards to advance these priorities. rules like the mercury and air toxins standard, for example. number two, the cross-state air pollution rule. number three, the ozone rule. number four, the new source performance standards for the oil and gas industry. number five, the clean power plan, which is meant to obviously focus our policy on
climate change. and other policies to reduce exposure to pollutants like methane, organic compounds, mercury and carbon pollution itself. according to the american lung association's 2016 state of the air report, these rules reduce -- reduce -- the likelihood of premature death, asthma attacks, lung cancer, and heart disease. i would hope if you have a series of measures in place that reduces the likelihood of asthma attacks, lung cancer, heart disease, and premature death, i would hope that we would not only advance those policies, but make sure they're not destroyed, undermined or compromised. so it's just common sense to make sure that we regulate pollutants like lead, mercury, arsenic and acid gases, just by
way of example. and yet, mr. pruitt, who is the attorney general of oklahoma, filed 14 lawsuits against the e.p.a. to halt the regulation of these pollutants that threaten our children's health. mr. pruitt has stood up for the interests of oil and gas companies, but has failed to defend, in my judgment, the most vulnerable members of our society, or at least not defend them to the extent that i hoped he would not only as the attorney general of oklahoma but as the e.p.a. secretary, were he to be confirmed. when asked during his confirmation to name one clean air or clean water regulation he supported, he couldn't name one. so i believe his record is clear, he fought to dismantle the clean air act, the clean water act, antipollution programs that target ozone and mercury in the air, the agreement to clean up the chesapeake bay, which i'll get to in a moment, that
watershed, and has even denied the science of climate change. so suffice it to say, i have a number of basic concerns about his record and what he would do were he to be confirmed. one example of the concerns i have involves the chesapeake bay with regard to its impact in pennsylvania. although pennsylvania doesn't border the chesapeake, pennsylvania susquehanna river is the bay's largest source of fresh water. improving the health of the chesapeake bay requires a sustained, coordinated commitment from all of the states in the watershed. i've repeatedly written to the united states department of agriculture for increased funding and technical assistance for farmers in pennsylvania so that pennsylvania can continue to improve the health of the susquehanna river and the bay. pennsylvania has made great
strides in addressing the issue of nutrient and sediment run jofer to the chesapeake bay, however there's more to be done and pennsylvania is far from meeting its 2025 pollution reduction goals. ensuring all states in the watershed are coordinated in meeting their commitments is exactly the type of role the e.p.a. should be filling. mr. pruitt called the e.p.a.'s chesapeake bay so-called tmdl -- a standard -- quote, a culmination of e.p.a.'s decade-long attempt to control how states achieve federal law requirements under the clean water act and marks the beginning of the end of state participation in water pollution regulation. unquote. well, i disagree. we don't have time to outline all the reasons, but i strongly disagree with that assessment of the e.p.a.'s actions with regard
to the chesapeake bay. but we do have a long way to go to make sure that we keep it clean. so on clean water, i think we have to insist that neither the e.p.a. secretary nor anyone in congress does any compromising when it comes to clean water. climate change, this fall i had an opportunity to spend time in pennsylvania with senator whitehouse of rhode island, one of the leaders in the senate on the issue of climate change. we did a tour and one of the places that we went was the john heinz national wildlife refuge, which is america's first urban refuge named after one of my predecessors, senator heinz, who tragically died in 1991. but his work on environment is remembered in places like this wildlife refuge. this is a public space that allows us to enjoy wildlife, outdoor recreation, environmental education
opportunities right outside of a major city, in this case philadelphia. and this refuge also plays a vital role in climate change resiliency. marshes help to filter pollution from water and can absorb water during heavy rain events, thus reducing the magnitude of flooding. the refuge is facing a number of environmental stressors. sea level rise could have a serious consequences for this fresh water marsh. not only would rising sea levels lead to the loss of undeveloped dry land and habitat for wildlife, but increased salinity could change the plant makeup at the refuge. pennsylvania's climate has warmed more than half a degree fahrenheit in just the last century. sea level has also risen to nearly one foot -- has risen nearly one foot over the past century, according to noaa,
measured by the tidal gauge in philadelphia. that means that significant portions of the city of philadelphia could be under water, including the philadelphia airport, if we fail to act. we know that 2016 was the warmest year on record for the third year in a row. also, climate change is not some distant possibility in pennsylvania or throughout the nation. it is real, and we're already feeling the effects of climate change. mr. president, i'll close with one story from one mother that talks about air quality or the impact of bad air quality and the issue of climate change itself. jacqueline smith spade is a mother from philadelphia, and she recently wrote to me about her 7-year-old son jonas' struggle with asthma and the emotional and financial toll it takes on their family. quote, every time there is an extreme, irregular climate shift, i can pretty much predict that my son is going to end up in the emergency room.
the emergency room, due to the effect of air quality. she goes on to say, i routinely check the air quality to determine what type of day my son might have with or without the nebulizer. the toll creates a financial burden on my family. the emergency room visits cost $100 each time we go. $30 co-pays for each specialist visit. $15 co-pays for each pediatrician visit. she goes on to say, this is not cheap. however, my insurance greatly helps to reduce the cost. and she worries, of course, what might happen on health care. but i won't read all those portions. she concludes the letter this way -- or this part of the letter. a reduction in air quality and climate change will make life for my 7-year-old son much easier. his reactions to those changes
will be reduced. it will also save my family countless dollars, stress, and panic attacks. unquote. so said one mom about her son jonas. and what we must do, and especially what mr. pruitt must do were he to be confirmed, is to answer her questions, to answer her questions, jacqueline's questions, and the concerns she has about her son jonas. she is not only a taxpayer, but she's someone who will be impacted directly by the actions and the policies that come from this administration as well as the e.p.a. itself. so i believe that mr. pruitt, if he were to be confirmed, must meet the expectations of jonas and his mother. he works for them -- or will work for them, were he to be confirmed. mr. president, i know i am out of time. i'll just conclude with this. there are a long series of
reasons, some were i i wasn't able to get to today, that undergird and form the foundation of my decision not to support the nomination of scott pruitt as the next e.p.a. administrator. mr. president, with that, i will yield the floor. mr. cornyn: snrp. the presiding officer: the majority whip. mr. cornyn: mr. president, today is february 16, 2017. the president was sworn in on january 20, 2017. for the past several weeks now we've come to the floor to talk about the slow pace at which the senate has considered and voted on the president's nominees for his cabinet.
well, there's good reason for that, because one of our roles is to consider and vote on advisors selected by the president, regardless of political party, and to help this new administration lead the country. president obama, too his credit, after the election sat down with president-elect trump and said he was committed to a peaceful transition of power from his administration to the trump administration. but parntsly some of our colleagues -- but apparently some of our colleagues didn't get the memo. we continue to slog along at the slowest pace since george washington to vote on nominees to the president's cabinet. the reason it's gone on so slowly is clear by now. it's because our friends across the aisle are still upset and have not yet reconciled themselves with the result tz of the election on november 8. they just can't kind of get over
it. and, yes, they're being encouraged by the radical elements of their party who don't want us to fulfill our responsibilities, who don't want a new president to have the cabinet that he needs in order to govern the country. yes, there are some who want to halt our work in this chamber and perpetuate dysfunction. they don't want us to focus on legislating, because they want to keep us tied up in the confirmation process. and i will just interject right here, as i've said before, we know that these nominees will be confirmed because, thanks to the nuclear option under senator reid, the previous democratic leader, all it takes is 51 votes to confirm a nominee to a cabinet post. but the fact of the matter is,
the country needs a functioning senate. we need a functioning executive branch. so i hope our colleagues across the aisle will understand soon that if they want to be effective, if they want to actually move the needle and help those who've entrusted them with the future of this country, then we need to turn from gridlock to action. last congress, even under president obama in the white house, we did not let partisan dysfunction keep us from working together. there is a difference between elections and governing. but for some reason, too many people want to keep relitigating the election and not allow us to actually govern. of course, during the obama administration, republicans had many points of departure from the obama administration, and we used the tools available to us
to provide the oversight and ask the critical questions that the american people demanded. but our friends across the aisle are now being tempted to shut down the government, to run away from policy debates, and point fingers. why? because it's always easier to throw stones than it is to actually accomplish something. roll up your sleeves, focus on the task and turn to legislati legislating. and, yes, it may be easier just to criticize and to obstruct, but it is not the right thing for the american people. and our colleagues across the aisle know that, but as i said earlier, they are being unduly influenced by some of the radical elements in their political base that won't let them do it or that say, if you do cooperate in a bipartisan basis and actually do your job, then we're going to recruit
people to run against new a primary. -- to run against you in a primary. well, that's part of the a risk we all take. we didn't come here to apiece a portion of our political base -- appease a portion of our political base and neglect our duties as members of the united states senate. i would point to last congress and the work we did together on a bipartisan basis, i might add, as evidence of what you can accomplish when you try to do that. the 114th congress, after the 2014 election, saw a new majority, a new republican leadership, and we did our best to help restore order to this chamber and get it working again after years of dysfunction. under the previous regime, members of both the majority and minority parties were actually prevented from coming to the floor and offering legislative ideas in the form of amendments and getting votes on them. but that backfired when some of
our colleagues who were running for reelection in 2014 realized that they had very little to show the voters by way of accomplishment. even those in the majority party, the democratic party at that time. so you would have thought that there would be some lessons learned there. in the last congress, in the 114th congress that began two years ago, we voted on legislative ideas from both sides of the aisle more than 250 roll call votes. that represented a sea change from the previous administration, the way senator reid ran thing. well, we were able to get the senate functioning as the founders intended, and that led to big results for the american people. we took care of big, intractable problems that had trouble getting anywhere during the previous congresses. for example, we passed a
transportation bill, the highway bill, to help americans deal with safety on the roadway, to deal with concerns about pollution due to congestio con-- congestion, and people in gridlock and we helped our economy in the process. that was a big, important bill. that was the first time we had been able to pass a long-term highway bill in about 30 separate attempts where we had patched the funding mechanism for six months or a year which made it nearly impossible for our highway departments across the country to actually plan and it ended up being more expensive and less effective than it would be when -- with a multiyear highway bill, which we passed. so that was a big, bipartisan accomplishment. we also made great progress reforming our public education system by passing, again on a
bipartisan basis, the every student succeeds act, which went a long way to devolving power from here in washington, d.c., back to the states, back to local school districts, back to parents and teachers. something that fortunately we were able to agree upon on a bipartisan basis, and that change was applauded by my constituents back home. and i believe people around the country. we also made great headway in making our country safer and our government more just by taking up and passing legislation to support victims of abuse and violence and to craft laws that better equip our law enforcement to handle growing threats. for example, we passed the justice for victims of trafficking act 99-0. some people say nothing ever gets done if washington. well, 99-06789 it is hard to beat -- well, 99-0.
it is hard to beat that except by 100-0. but we'll take it. that law is signed into law by president obama two years ago and it is helping victims of human trafficking get the healing and recovery that they need while also providing help to law enforcement to help root out the people who patronize modern-day slavery, which is what human trafficking amounts to. we also on a bipartisan basis reauthorized the justice for all act, to strengthen victims' rights in court and increase access to restitution and services that can help them recover. it helps reduce the national backlog in untested rape kits, forensic evidence collected after sexual assault that is necessary to identify the assailant through the use of d.n.a. testing. that was really important after we heard the horror stories of as many as 400,000 untested rape kits in laboratories or evidence
lockers, evidence which was critical to identifying the assailant, many times who were serial assailants. in other words, they didn't just attack one time. they a tacked -- they attacked multiple times over the years and to get them off the streets. that type of evidence is also very important in exonerating the innocent because if we can exclude someone from one of these terrible assaults, that means a person who is innocent of a crime will be free. we also passed a bill called the police act signed into law last summer so that our first responders and law enforcement officers can learn the latest techniques to deal with violence, so that they're ready to face the unimaginable or previously unimaginable threats in our communities. i could go on and on, mr. president, but i'll just mention a few more. we passed bipartisan legislation to combat opioid abuse and
heroin addiction. the comprehensive addiction and recovery act. we passed laws to make our government more transparent so it's more accountable to the public and voters. we helped capitalize on our god-given natural resources by lifting the crude oil export ban, for example, something important not only to domestic producers and job creation here, but also to our friends and allies around the world who frequently depend on a single source for their energy. and unfortunately people like vladimir putin in russia has discovered you can use that sole source of energy as a weapon by threatening to cut it off. so the reason i mention some of these accomplishments, mr. president, is to make the point that nothing happens in congress, nothing happens in the federal government unless it's bipartisan. and it's one thing to fight hard
in an election and try to win the election so you can begin the privilege of actually -- so you can gain the privilege of actually being in the majority or having the white house. but after the election is over with, our responsibilities shift to governing. and right now our friends across the aisle are continuing to obstruct and drag their feet and make it impossible for the president to get the cabinet he needs in order to get the government up and running. so we need to return to the pattern we established in the last congress to work together, to build consensus, to help make america stronger, our citizens safer and our laws better, a better service to all the people. so i would just plead with our colleagues across the aisle to
stop the dysfunction, stop wanting to relitigate the outcome of the election. you can't. it's over. we know what the outcome was. so they need to move on, and we need to move on not just for the political parties that we're members of, not just for the benefit of those elected here in washington, but for the benefit of 320-some-odd million people who we have the responsibility of representing. so instead of foot dragging and obstruction and dysfunction, let us fight as we always have for those people we represent and work together to find common ground where we can to put forward legislation that serves them well. mr. president, i would hope our colleagues across the aisle would remember those lessons they learned in the 2014 election that dysfunction is bad
politics. it does not help their political cause. and i understand the temptation, wanting to yield to the most radical elements in a political party. but we are elected to the senate for six-year terms to be that cooling saucer, to try to have debate and deliberation, to try to work out the hard problems. that is our responsibility here. and to blindly obstruct when you know you can't change the outcome, particularly when it comes to the president getting the cabinet he has chosen and that he deserves, makes no sense whatsoever. mr. president, i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from colorado. mr. gardner: thank you, mr. president. there are few things that i enjoy more than bragging about my hometown. i live in a little town called
yuma, colorado, out on the eastern plains, a town of about 3,500 people. if maybe you overexaggerate a little bit, it reaches 4,000. it's out in the middle of the high plains of colorado. 4,000 feet in elevation, 40 miles or so from the kansas-nebraska border. it's a farming community. 100% fajr. everything related to that town is farming. even the clothing stores are related to farming because if you don't have a strong agriculture economy, nobody is buying blue jeans. and so everything we do, everything we do in that town is related to agriculture and farming. my family comes from a background of a farm equipment business. started a business, it was about 101 years old this year, by my great-grandfather. my time working in that dealership started roughly when i was in seventh, eighth grade. they let me -- high-skill tasks
they let me perform. cleaning the bathroom, sweeping the floors. i did that throughout my time in eighth grade, high school, college. if i go back today, i'm sure they would let me do those same jobs, cleaning the bathrooms and sweeping the floors. part of that is because i was selling the wrong parts to a lot of farmers that would come into the dealership and maybe they were just keeping me off the parts counter for the time being. in fact, maybe that's why people voted for me is to get me or the parts counter and selling the wrong parts. over the time in the dealership we witnessed a lot of good times in agoing a. -- in agriculture. i can remember going into my dad's office saying the price of corn is high right now. we ought to order a whole bunch of farm equipment, a whole bunch of tractors, combines and have them on the lot so we can take advantage of the good times in agriculture. and my grad dad paused panned looks at my dad and said i don't think we should do that because i don't think times would be
good next year. you know what? they were right. this is back in the, i think probably in the mid-1990's. they had seen it coming because of the experience in the business, the ebbs and flows of the agriculture, good times and bad times. they were able to recognize through their own experience what different economic indicators meant to them and how they could forecast using their experience what was going to happen in the farm world the next year. so they decided not to order all that brand-new equipment. they decided not to order the tractors, combines and tilling equipment and it was a good thing because the next year wasn't that great. and if this 18-year-old, 19-year-old kid had his own way we would have had a whole lot of iron we were paying interest on without being able to sell it. colorado is blessed with 4,000 companies involved in agriculture, 173,000 jobs in colorado directly involved in agriculture. the state has more than 35,000 farms and 31 million acres used for farming and ranching. if you look at the colorado business economic outlook, the
net farm income of ranchers and farmers in 2016 estimated, though, this year to be the lowest it's been since 1986. and the projections for 2017 are even lower. you know, i grew up, of course, as a kid in the 1980's 1980's, and watching perhaps the hardest times agriculture in the u.s. had faced in decades. watching a lot of people that i knew my whole life going out of business, people having to sell the farm because of what was happening in the 1980's, leading to a banking crisis in agriculture in the 1980's, watching banks that i had grown up with close. and i'm concerned, though, in this country that we're going to see the same thing again beginning in 2016 into 2017, and then into 2018, next year.
and i'm very worried that those tough times that we saw in the 1980's, stft tough with the good times we saw in the 1990's and some really good years just a few years ago are going to seem like distant memories come later this summer and into next year if we don't do something. i had the opportunity to visit with the colorado commissioner of agriculture in my office last week, a gentleman by the name of don brown. don brown is from my hometown. yuma, colorado, has done pretty well for itself. the state commissioner of agriculture is from that town. the previous commissioner of agriculture, john stolt is from my hometown of yuma. both of them grew up in agriculture in that area, understanding what it's like in the high plains, understanding what it's like to live through good times and bad times. but both of them today i think would tell you they're very concerned as well about what happens over the next year, the next two years. it wasn't that long ago when we saw some of the highest-priced commodities this country has
ever seen, at least in a very long time. golden years of agriculture some people said where corn and wheat were priced high. people were able to pay their bills, buy new equipment. commodity prices, they don't always stay that high. the one thing that a farmer will tell you is the price of a piece of farm equipment stays high. the price of fertilizer seems to stay high. and when prices come down on their commodities, the other prices, the inputs stay high, and they find themselves in significant trouble. the price of corn today is estimated to be about $3.15 per bushel. that's twha it -- what it was in 2016. less than half of the ten year high price of corn in 2012, just a few yearsing a. to put that in an historical context, the price of corn in 2016 at $3.15 is lower than the price of corn in 1974, the year i was born, when it was $3.20.
the price of corn in 2016 was five cents lower than it was the year i was born. in 1974. it's the same story across the board for colorado. wheat prices are down more than $1 from 2015 to 2016 and down more than 50% since 2012. i can guarantee you, even though i may have sold a lot of wrong parts at the dealership, those wrong parts didn't come down in price 50%. the livestock industry has seen similar trends with cattle prices at their lowest level since 2010. in farming and agriculture, a lot of times you might see a year where the price of corn is high but the price of cattle is low or price of other commodities is high and price of cattle is low but when cattle are high maybe other commodities are low. farmers who have a diverse operation are able to offset the lows and highs with the diverse operation. but not this year. maybe it doesn't even look like that can be the case next year. the declines in the state's
agoing a economy are not unique to colorado. according to the u.s. department of agriculture's economic research service revenues decreased by more than 10% for 2014. "the wall street journal" wrote this of the crisis. i'm going to show the headline of the "wall street journal" piece, just a couple of weeks ago. "the wall street journal" has an article titled the next american farm bust is upon us. we've had a lot of debates on this floor. we've had debates about cabinet members. we've had debates about resolutions of disapprovals. we're talking about a lot of things, but there's a lot of sumpg beginning in the heart -- lot of suffering beginning in the heartland of america. a lot of farmers and ranchers are suffering and worrying about how they're going to survive not just into next year but how they're going to survive into the next couple of months. telltale signs of difficult times are all around us in agriculture. this article, the next american farm bust is upon us, here's
what the "wall street journal" said. the farm bill is hurtling toward a milestone. soon there will be fewer than two million farms in america for the first time since pioneers moved westward after the louisiana purchase. across the heartland, a multiyear slump in prices for corn, wheat and other farm commodities brought on by a glut of grain worldwide is pushing. farmers further into debt. some are shutting down worried the next few years could bring the biggest wave of farm closures since the 1980's. the article highlights the story of a fifth generation farmer from western kansas. my hometown is 40 miles away from kansas and looks similar to the eastern colorado plains i live in. here's the story. from his father posts porch, the 56-year-old son -- from his father's porch the 56-year-old can see the spot where his great grandparent hofs's sat when they
planted alpha, sorghum and wheat. even after harvesting one of the best wheat crops ever last year thanks to rain and a mild winter, mr. scott isn't sure how long they can afford to keep farming that ground. there's a lot of work we need to do to make sure that mr. scott, farmers that live in my community around the eastern and western slope of colorado will be able to survive into the next year, steps we can help to make sure we are addressing this crisis head on before it begins and develops into a full-blown farm crisis like we saw in the 1980's. we must have serious regulatory reform. in a letter i received from the colorado farm bureau, the letter red the colorado farm bureau recognizes a major impediment to the success of agriculture industries and the national economy is rampant in federal regulation and the associated cost of compliance. we've got to l a low u.s. agriculture to flow to markets around the world. in addition to that regulatory reform and some of which we're undertaking through resolutions of disapproval by peeling back the overreach of government, we have to all