U.S. Senate Confirms EPA Nominee Advances Commerce Nominee CSPAN February 16, 2017 11:59pm-2:00am EST
information they will need to make an informed decision that they can then give to their senators to make a wise decision that could lead to much stronger protections that they can receive from this critical agency that is the overseer of the environment in our country. so again, mr. president, i oppose mr. pruitt's nomination. i would ask for a delay. i know it's not going to happen. i understand why, but it's a sad day in the history of the senate. and with that, mr. president, i would like to reclaim the balance of my time and yield back to you, mr. president.
a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from hawaii. mr. schatz: thank you, mr. president. in -- in late october, people who lived in a place called denora shrugged off the thick yellow smog that had covered their small town. it was 1948. and it wasn't unusual to see a smog blanket the town, thanks to the zinc plant and the steel mill that smoked endlessly into the pennsylvania sky. and it wasn't unusual to see people coughing as they went about their day. as one reporter put it, people are always coughing in denora. what was unusual is that the smog did not clear as the day went on. it lingered, hanging around the town, wreaking havoc for the next five days. at first, life seemed to go on.
the halloween parade went on as planned, even though no one could really see the people marching. the high school football game went on as planned, although the quarterbacks avoided passing plays, since the wide receivers couldn't see the ball. but then someone died. people couldn't breathe. as the local hospitals started to fill, the town hotel set up beds for overflow patients. by the fourth day, the hotel had to set up another emergency section. this time a temporary morgue. the town's three funeral homes were overwhelmed. on the fifth day, the stacks of the zinc plant stopped their endless streams of smoke, and the smog that would have become known as the donora death fog finally lifted.
but not before nearly 7,000 people fell ill and 20 died. this is one of the many stories that show us what life was like in the united states of america before the e.p.a. was created. in the early 1960's, millions of freshwater fish and rivers around the country were poisoned by insecticides, hurting consumer trust and the countless fishermen and their families who relied on the fish to make a living. pollution was so bad that debris floating in the cuyahoga river actually caught on fire, causing thousands of dollars in property damage. the water in lake superior, one of the most beautiful lakes in the united states, became so toxic from companies dumping asbestos-laden waste that local communities had to start filtering their water. think about that.
people could drink the water from local reservoirs unfiltered until pollution came along. this was the path that our country was on. pollution was destroying some of the most beautiful places in this country on the planet, in fact, putting the health of the public and the health of our economy at grave risk. but there is another event in the early 1960's that helped our country to see clearly that the path we were on would only lead to destruction. rachel carson, scientist, public servant and author, published a book called "silent spring." this book laid out in simple, beautiful prose the threats that pesticides and pollution posed to our environment or what carson called a fable for tomorrow. she wrote, the most alarming of all man's assaults upon the environment is the contamination
of air, earth, rivers and sea with dangerous and even lethal materials. carson's book made clear that we were contaminating the environment and that this could not go on. her book sounded a call for change. as millions of americans began demanding that the government take action. but there was also a backlash. here is what one industry spokesman said as public opinion began to coalesce around addressing pollution. quote, the major claims of miss rachel carson's book "silent spring" are gross distortions of the actual facts, completely unsupported by scientific, experimental evidence and general practical experience in the field. her suggestion that pesticides are in fact biocides destroying all life is obviously absurd in light of the fact that without selected biolodge cals, these
compounds would be completely useless. now, this is how the controversy went on for the next few years. the public, the science and the reality all pointed towards the truth. but a few loud voices persisted. they did not want the movement to go forward. and this continued even after rachel carson passed away, tragically and prematurely of cancer in the year 1964. and here's what "the new york times" published in her obituary. quote, the most recent flare-up in the continuing pesticide controversy occurred earlier this month when the public health service announced that the periodic huge scale deaths of fish on the lower mississippi river have been traced over the last four years to toxic ingredients in three kinds of pesticides. some concerns believe that the pesticides drained into the river from neighboring farm lands. a hearing by the agriculture
department of the public health service's charges ended a week ago with a spokesman from one of the pesticide manufacturers saying that any judgment should be delayed until more information was obtained. the line of argument captured i "the new york times" is familiar to anyone who has watched our nation struggle to come to a shared set of facts around a number of difficult issues, but even in the face of so much controversy, the country did the right thing in addressing the threats to our environment. the united states government, a substantial and commendable support from republicans began to lay the foundation for a new america, one that would preserve and protect our country and its resources for the next generation. and i'd like to highlight three of the critical cornerstones in the foundation.
the e.p.a., the clean air act and the clean water act. let's start with the e.p.a. itself. it was established in 1970 by president nixon. he united several offices and bureaus already in the federal government into a single agency, one that would oversee all of the laws, protections, research and policies about the nation's environment. the mission of the e.p.a. was clear from the start -- to protect human health and the environment. and almost immediately something really exciting happened. there was a feeling of hope and anticipation for what this agency could do for the country. within the first few months, tens of thousands of resumes came flooding in from across the country as people clamored to work for the e.p.a. here's how one man who worked for the agency described it. there was a palpable sense of excitement that we were about to
do something big. we had to do things big because the newspapers and news magazines were filled with stories about lake erie dying. i think it was a year or two before that that the cuyahoga had indeed caught on fire. i believe houston's ship channel had the same issue. we knew we were there to really deal with substantial problems, and we were going to meet with immediate pushback. for the next 40 years, the e.p.a. would build a legacy of preserving and protecting the country's air, water and natural resources, working to make our country a better place to live. and i just want to say that whatever the final disposition of this nomination ends up beinh as hard as we possibly can for the delay of this decision until we are able to see the contents of mr. pruitt's e-mails as
directed by the court this afternoon. but whatever the decision is of the senate under advice and consent, it's really important that this be said. e.p.a. employees still have an obligation under federal law to do their job, to protect air and water, to administer the clean air and clean water act, to enforce the endangered species act. we are confirming a head of an agency, but this new head of an agency is not the emperor of the agency. this new head of the agency has obligations under the statute to enforce the laws on the books, and he has a current role as the lead of the republican attorneys general association and as a plaintiff in multiple lawsuits
against the e.p.a., and that is a reason many of us object to his confirmation. but if he is confirmed, every e.p.a. employee has rights, they have whistle-blower rights, they have protections and they have obligations under the statute so that if this e.p.a. tries to do anything unlawful, anything that couldn't convenience the clean air act, the clean water act, the endangered species act, that all of the e.p.a. employees are duty bound under the law to follow the law. no one in the federal government should be forced to do anything unlawful, and we support the e.p.a. employees in particular who we know work so hard and are so dedicated to such an
important cause, and we know they are under intense scrutiny and pressure, and i think it is worth saying that we support them but also that the law supports them. one of the first actions of the agency was to ban d.d.t., a pesticide used in world war ii. at first d.d.t. seemed like a dream chemical. it was used to protect soldiers from pests and then to protect crops like cotton, but soon it became clear, thanks to rachel carson and others, that this chemical was creating far more harm than good. public health was really in danger. the bald eagle and other wildlife were being poisoned. and the pests that were supposed to be put off from bothering the crops were adapting, becoming more resistant, even as the chemicals became more potent and ultimately more dangerous. but thanks to the e.p.a., the use of d.d.t. came to an end.
the health of children, families and wildlife immediately improved. the bald eagle slowly recovered to the point where it is no longer a threatened or endangered species. the agency also found a solution to acid rain which was a major problem that killed fish, hurt american farmers and caused damage to forests and infrastructure alike. after studies show how high concentrations of lead were hurting our kids, the e.p.a. took action to remove it from gasoline and from the air, and because of that action, lead levels in both kids and adults have dropped by more than 80% since the late 1970's. we have a lot more work to do on lead, but that is one of the many e.p.a. success stories. the e.p.a. then took on showed, ban -- took on secondhand smoke,
banning smoking in indoor places. it had the auto industry reduce the amount of pollution created by cars, a step that would reduce the amount of pollution per mile emitted by cars by up to 90%. and it provides technical assistance to state and local governments that otherwise don't have the resources or the knowhow to tackle problems on their own. the agency has also empowered the public through right to know laws that give people access to information about chemicals, toxic substances and pollution in their own communities. and after studies show how low-income and minority communities face greater environmental risks, the e.p.a. formed an office of environmental justice dedicated to making these communities as safe as any other in the country. and as is so often the case, this federal agency set the bar for the rest of the world on how governments can protect and preserve the environment. one leader of the e.p.a. who
served under president george h.w. bush recalled that the agency worked with countries as varied as morocco and mexico to battle fires or spills. after the e.p.a. sent people to help with a russian spill that was impacting estonia, the prime minister wrote the e.p.a. a letter, saying their visit was the most important visit of any americans since charles lindbergh had flown from russia to estonia in 1933. and so the e.p.a. has had incredibly important impacts from boosting diplomacy around the world to protecting the lungs of little ones right here at home. the second cornerstone of our efforts to protect the environment is the clean air act. before the e.p.a. opened its doors, states set their own standards for clean air, and most states had weak standards because they were in a race to
the bottom to attract companies that didn't want to have to deal with the damage they caused. imagine you're in a bunch of -- you are in a state and you have three or four adjacent states and somebody wants to site a factory. well, it's very difficult to have a strong environmental standard because that factory is no doubt going to find the place where they are allowed to pollute the most, which is why you have federal standards. an not surprisingly, those low standards were fueling air pollution. every day, the average american takes between 17,000 and 23,000 breaths, and if the air we are breathing is filled with toxic chemicals, we are at risk for cancer, birth defects, and damage to our lungs, our brain, and our nerves. and that risk is even higher for people with asthma and for senior citizens. and, remember, humans aren't the only ones that rely on clean
air. trees, crops, wildlife, lakes, fish -- they are all at risk of damage when we have dirty air. and so eventually the american people demanded something be done to clean up our air, and in 1970 congress, on a bipartisan basis, on a bipartisan basis, passed the clean air act. this law, along with later amendments, makes up the complete federal response to air pollution. it is a beautifully written law. it gives the e.p.a. the authority to limit air pollutants and emissions from industry plants. it empowers the agency to research and fund different approaches to keeping the air clean, and it creates partnerships between federal, state, and local governments to reduce air pollution. now, who could argue with that? as soon as it was passed, people knew that this law was a game changer. president nixon said, i think
the 1970 will be known as the year of the beginning in which we really began to move on the problems of clean air and clean water and open spaces for the future generations of america. and that is exactly what happened. the impact was actually felt very quickly, starting with the auto industry. the clean air act culled on the -- called on the auto industry is drastically reduce the amount of nitrogen monoxide and carbon monoxide and other chemicals that came out of tailpipes in the country within five years. consider that today thrrd more than three times the amount of cars on the road than there were in the 1970's. now imagine if the chemicals coming out of each of those cars' tailpipes were 90% more harmful. that's where we would be without the clean air act. it wasn't so longing a that communities would cancel high school for kids because the air
pollution was so bad, not in beijing when you in california. -- but in california. that is no longer the case. not for numerous reasons, not for a dozen or so causes, but because of the clean air act. this law has literally saved millions of lives. it has improved the health for millions of others. and because the e.p.a. has been there to enforce it, air pollution has fallen by 70% since 1970. smog levels in los angeles have fallen from their peak by two-thirds and nationwide lead in our cars is down 99%, carbon monoxide is down 95% and sulfur dioxide is down 80%. acid rain is down 50%. and all at a fraction of anticipated cost. now, let me make two points here. first of all, it is actually rare that a law works this well. i mean, it's hard to make a good
law. it is -- i mean, everybody talks about it as a sausage-making process. you don't want too see what goes into it. but not all laws work over time. this law actually worked. this law actually cleaned up our air. and so that's a really important thing to remember. and so if you undermine this law, if you undermine the agency that enforces it, the air does not clean up itself. this is not an automatic thing. the air is clean because the government protects the air. and i understand that, including the presiding officer and many members of the republican party, we have tough debates about how big the government should be, what its responsibilities should
be, but you go from the -- from bernie sanders, the democratic socialist, to rand paul, the sort of republican/libertarian, and i'm not sure if you just sat down and had a cup of coffee with either of them or everybody in between on the political spectrum, in terms of their view of what the federal government ought to do, gosh, i can't imagine that anybody, if you kind of get them in a private moment, doesn't think that it's a federal role to keep the air clean. i mean, there are moments where i see a program within a federal agency, and i might love it, right, because of my political persuasion. but i can understand how a ben sasse or a rand paul or a marco rubio might object to it because they might say, well, that sound like a good idea, but my goodness, if that's so
important, why don't wree let communities decide whether or not to do that. this is not one of those issues. go and talk to your constituents about whether they want clean air or not. i don't know that you're going to find too many republicans out there -- i mean, voters, not elected officials -- voters who think clean air is, egh, clean air, take it or leave t the truth is, first of all, clean air is important enough to make a federal law about it in the first place. but there is also a technical reason, not a economy indicated technical reason, that you need a federal law that is about clean air as topped a state-by-state patchwork. and that is because the air travels, that you cannot pollute in one state and expect that it won't impact the other state. and so one state having tough, clean air standards doesn't really function in terms of the ecology because pollution knows no boundaries.
the same study that i referred to found that air pollution has improved in the united states thanks to environmental protection. but our work is not done. nearly 90,000 people every year in the united states are at risk of a premature death because of air pollution. and that number will rise if we chip away at this basic foundation. the third and final cornerstone that have foundation is the clean water act. it's really important to remember how bad things were before the clean water act. i mean, we're not where we need to be in terms of protecting our water resources, but it is kind of unfathomable how bad it was before this law was passed. water in communities across the country were dirty. you couldn't swim or fish in two-thirds of the lakes, rivers, and coastal waters in the country. you couldn't swim, or fish in two-thirds of the lakes, rivers,
and coastal waters in the country. that is a data point that you would expect in a country that is still industrializing, that just doesn't have the pollution controls. when you go to certain parts of the planet and you see essentially a very dirty environment, you would assume two-thirds, maybe more, of those lakes and streams and waterways are too polluted to fish or swim. but this was the united states. it was allowable to dump untreated sewage into open wat water. you could dump untreated sewage into open water before the clean water act. but that changed in 1972. when what is now known as the clean water act became law and cleared the way for the federal government to restore and protect the health of our water. according to a study by the aspen institute, the clean water act stopped billions of pounds
of pollution from fouling the water and dramatically increased the number of waterways that are safe for swimming and fishing. 20 years ago you would have had to have a death wish to go swimming in boston harbor. today you don't have to think twice. and that's because of the clean water act. but this isn't just about enjoying the beauty of the water that it provides to so many communities, although that's not a small thing. look, a lot of people, left, right, and center -- people who are not political, people who are on the progressive side, people on the conservative side -- like, people like the lake, people like the beach, people like the ocean. and it is not unrrnlings whoever you voted for, to think there are a few things that government should do. they should probably have some type of transportation infrastructure, thrshed probably -- there should probably be a national defense.
if you are a libertarian, if you are not nuts, you think the government should do a couple of very basic things and among them, it's to keep the water clean. so, i wanted to share some interactions i've had with the craft beer industry. they wrote a letter this week about how important clean water act is to them. quote, beer is about 90% water. making local water supply quality and its characteristics such as ph and mineral content critical to beer brewing and the flavor of many classic beers. changes to our water supply, whether we draw directly from a water source or from a municipal supply, threaten our ability to consistently produce our great-tasting beer and, thus, our bottom line. protecting clean water is central to our business and our long-term success. not only does great-tasting beer
we brew depend on it, but so do the communities in which we operate. some of the largest and best craft breweries in the country signed on to this letter from the alagash brewing company in maine, to the new belgium brewing company in colorado. and they are right to be concerned. because it won't take much for our water to go back to where it was in the 1970's. and so it's in the interest of many industries for our country to have clean water. but not only of them. publicly traded companies will do the minimum. in a lot of ways, the way these companies are set up, they're actually obligated under the law to do the minimum. they have to maximize shareholder profit. they have boards of directors, they have earnings reports, they have quarterly obligations, and whether you like it or not, that
that's the way our system works. and so if you have a fiduciary obligation to maximize profits, then you may give short shrift to environmental concerns. compliance costs money, and so most companies will comply only if they have to. they feel that their obligation is to sit down with their lawyers, if they are a good companies, sit down with their lawyers and have the lawyers explain to them what they must do to comply. but it is a rare company that says, hey, i don't want to do the minimum. i don't want to do much more than that. patagonia is great. there are other companies that do good work in the environmental space. but let's be very clear. there are a handful of companies that are so motivated either as a brand strategy or a mission-driven approach that
they're going to exceed their obligations under the law. most companies are going to do what is required under the law and not much more. and we can count on someone saying on a board of directors in some corner office or someplace in wall street, hey, we can save 3% here if we don't clean the water. and that's why we need a clean air act -- excuse me, a clean water act. that's why we need the e.p.a. i.t. not a matter -- it's not a matter of left or right. this is a matter of right or wrong. this is a matter of clean or dirty. and this is especially important because our work is not done. we still have a ways to go. we still can't swim or fish in about a third of our waterways. and so these three cornerstones, this foundation of more than 40 years of progress, have prepared us to tackle what is the challenge of our lifetime: climate change. there was a time when this was primarily the concern of the conservation-minded among us,
people like me: hikers, swimmers, surfers, green groups, birds and butterfly people, right? i understand that. there was a time where this was mostly an ecological kefnlt you had sciencey people. you had hiking types who said, hey, this thing is happening. i read al gore's book. this is a big deal. and they were ten years ahead of the curve. but climate change is no longer just ecological issue. it's an economic issue. it is a quality of life issue. it is an american way of life issue. it is causing real harm to people and costing us billions of dollars now -- not in the future, but now. in recent years, the united states has experienced a record number of devastating storms, extreme temperatures, severe floods, and lasting droughts, and it's not a coincidence. as the climate changes, normal weather patterns are altered,
and this 235ebg affects our environment, our health, and our economy by influencing everything from the price of produce at the grocery store to our home insurance rates. and so we know that climate change is real. the science makes that clear. in fact, our own personal experience makes that real. a lot of people fish or hunt or hike or surf or snorkel or go to the lake or just go outside and experience something that seems to be changing. and there is a difference between weather and climate. the weather is tomorrow morning's temperature and whether it's raining or not and whether it's windy or not. the climate is the conditions that create the weather. and we are just -- it's not arguable anymore by anybody credible that the climate has changed and therefore the weather is getting absolutely more volatile. now we can unfortunately rely on our own experience and our own eyes to confirm that the climate
and the weather is getting weirder. in some cases, more dangerous. and certainly more unpredictable. and make no mistake, this is caused by humans. and that means we can do something about it. climate change deniers need to know that they are on the wrong side of history. they can't just cite the cost of transitioning to a clean energy economy, a cost that continues to decline, i should point out, while ignoring the cost of doing nothing because the cost of doing nothing on climate change is absolutely astronomical, whether in infrastructure mitigation, private property loss and destruction of insurance markets. it is much less expensive to move toward a clean energy economy than to allow severe weather to drain our economy as a whole. as a senator from the state of hawaii that has led the way in building a clean energy infrastructure, producing clean
energy and cutting our dependence on fossil fuels, i know that we can achieve meaningful change across our nation, but we need the e.p.a. and an administrator to achieve this. by law, e.p.a. has the authority to take steps to cut any pollution that threatens human health and welfare, including carbon pollution, and the supreme court agreed that if e.p.a. found carbon pollution to be a danger, the agency was obligated to act to reduce the threat. and so e.p.a. has begun undertaking efforts to rein in those emissions. every protection that the e.p.a. creates is the result of years of scientific inquiry, stakeholder involvement, public comments and technological feasibility studies. for all the talk of federal overreach, e.p.a. gives an enormous amount of authority to states. for instance, in the clean power plan, e.p.a. sets emissions
targets, that's true, but it was up to each state to develop a plan that's best suited to its unique circumstances. i mean, the state of hawaii is really a unique situation because we have lots of clean energy opportunities, but in terms of base load power, you know, we get all of our fuel from asia, and it's lsfo, low sulfur fuel oil. so what we do is we bring in oil on tankers, which is costing three and a half times the national average for electricity, and we light it on fire, and that creates electrons. that is not smart. and so we are in a transition. but there are other states that have geothermal resources or biofuels resources, and so what the e.p.a. said was, hey, carbon is a pollutant, you have got to reduce carbon pollution because under the law, under the clean air act, any airborne pollutant must be regulated, right? you have to reduce airborne
pollutants. e.p.a. said you've got to do this over time, but we understand you're going to have your own energy mix and your own challenges. all you have to do is submit a plan that's kind of like thought through. and so west virginia's plan is different from california's plan, is different from hawaii's plan. they empower the states toen defer to come up with their own energy mix. and here's the good news about e.p.a.'s rules, and it's on the clean air act, the clean power plan. this is always the case. it always comes in below the estimated cost because what happens is if you tell industry to innovate, even if they don't want to, frankly, even if they complain about it, even if they tell you that it's going to crash the american economy, which they often say, it ends up driving innovation in the private sector. in the case of electricity generation transportation -- and transportation, the clean power plan and the cafe standards, the fuel efficiency standards for cars accelerated the technological transition that was already under way.
a couple of examples. when the auto bailout came in, president obama negotiated very hard for an increase in fuel efficiency standards, and you can imagine the american auto industry was basically on the ropes. it was about to die without a major bailout. and so they got the bailout but there were also some strings attached, which was, hey, bring up fuel efficiency standards. they freaked out. and do you know what happened? it met the standards. and do you know what happened after that? the american auto industry has never been stronger, because people like fuel-efficient cars, right? and what has happened with the clean power plan and with the paris climate accord and the investment tax credit and the production tax credit is the cost of solar and wind energy are declining, but when utilities began thinking about long-term investments in a carbon-constrained world, the increased demand for clean energy drove down these costs even further, which is good for both consumers and the environment. in fact, more solar capacity was
added in 2016 than any other energy source by far, and solar and wind combined to make up almost two-thirds of the new capacity last year. so, you know, i want people to understand that the clean energy revolution is under way. the only question is whether we're going to have to take a four-year break from this clean energy revolution and give the keys to the car, to china and other countries who would be pleased to let the united states abdicate its role as the leader of the clean energy revolution, and we're going to lose all those solar jobs and we're going to lose the innovation opportunities and we're going to lose all those wind energy opportunities. the question is not whether we're going to make a transition to clean energy. the question is how quickly and whether the united states will drive it or not. and consumers love the first generation of hybrid vehicles so much that they were waiting -- there were waiting lists to buy
them. cafe standards along with similar fuel economy standards around the world drove the automotive industry to innovate even further. and now we have unprecedented -- unprecedented numbers of hybrid and hybrid electric vehicles on the road, and we stand at the precipice of a new age of electric vehicles. and so we find ourselves at a crossroads. if we continue down the path that president obama set us on, i have no doubt that american ingenuity and innovation will allow us to continue to lead the world in the clean energy economy, but if we turn back the clock and hand the future back over to the dirty fuels of the past, we will cede economic leadership to china, india, germany and the rest of the world, and those countries are moving toward clean energy so quickly that we may never catch up. may never be able to take full advantage of the economic
opportunities that clean energy represent. it is sad but it is true that this is the path that our country will go on if scott pruitt is confirmed to lead the e.p.a. i know for the public after so many troubling nominees that it's hard to wake up outraged for yet another nominee, but the reason to freak out about this one is very simple. clean air and clean water. ask anyone who lived in l.a. or in boston since the 1970's, and they can tell you that our country has clean air and clean water because of the laws that were put in place and the agency that has done its job to implement them. all of this will be in jeopardy with scott pruitt at the helm. he made his political bones trying to shred the e.p.a.'s ability to enforce the laws that
protect clean air and clean water. now, this administration wants to give mr. pruitt the ultimate opportunity to lead the agency that he has worked so hard to undermine, and he hasn't hidden the fact that he is utterly opposed to the e.p.a. let me highlight four statements that he's made that illustrate this point. he said, and i quote, the e.p.a. was never intended to be our nation's front-line environmental regulator. the reality is the opposite is true. the e.p.a. was created for exactly that reason. before the e.p.a. existed, there were a number of offices and bureaus across the federal government that worked on protecting the environment, but the government saw, the congress saw that that wasn't enough. our nation's waters were polluted and the air was not clean. people were getting sick and dying because there wasn't enough being done to protect the environment. and so the intention behind the e.p.a. was absolutely to put a single agency on the front lines of protecting and preserving
clean air and clean water. not only does mr. pruitt disagree with the very mission of the e.p.a., he also doesn't seem at all interested in the work being done by this agency. he was asked during the confirmation process to name a single protection on the books at the e.p.a. here's his answer. i have not conducted a comprehensive review of e.p.a. regulations smg as attorney general, i have brought legal challenges involving e.p.a. regulations out of concern that e.p.a. has exceeded its statutory authority based on the record and the law in that matter. i mean, just as a parent, forget a job as a senator. as a parent and as a citizen, this really concerns me. i don't want to see the e.p.a. led by someone who is basically given a softball question in the confirmation hearing. name something you like about the e.p.a., but he declines to
go on the record supporting clean air or clean water. i mean, you would think that he could just say i like the clean water act, i like the clean air act. he could offer a caveat. i think there has been overreach. say whatever you want. but he couldn't even bring himself to say he supports the clean air act or the clean water act. that was the second comment that he has made that was disturbing. the third one relates to a federal standard that targets pollution that decreases visibility. and mr. pruitt had this to say about these standards. they threaten the competitive edge that oklahoma has enjoyed for years with low cost and reliable electricity generation. this low-cost energy not only benefits oklahoma manufacturers but gives our state a considerable edge in recruiting new jobs. what mr. pruitt is referring to is actually another reason why the e.p.a. was created in the first place. when states were in charge of environmental protections, it was often a race to the bottom.
everyone would try to lower their standards so the companies would move plants and factories to their state, and the result is exactly what you would imagine. companies were happy to make -- to meet the lowest standard possible, leaving huge messes for the state to clean up. and that's not a good use of our taxpayer dollars. it isn't the government's job to allow companies to make a huge mess and say hey, we'll clean that up for you. no need to clean it up. we've got it. let's look at how this has worked out for oklahoma. i'd like to read an article by journalist author eric puley which was published by "time" magazine. mercury is a deadly neurotoxin that damages the brains of the developing fetus and young children. according to the american academy of pediatrics, it is spewed into the air from coal-fired power plants and other industrial sources before settling into lakes and waterways and contaminating the fish that we eat.
but pruitt's challenges against the e.p.a.'s mercury standards include a tidy piece, tidy piece of scientific denial. claiming that the record does not support the e.p.a.'s findings that mercury poses public health hazards. after that legal challenge failed, pruitt sued a second time to block the mercury rules even though virtually all power plants had already complied with them at a fraction of the expected cost. thanks in part to the e.p.a. rules pruitt opposed, mercury levels in atlantic bluefinn tuna are rapidly declining. this isn't an abstract thing. if there are high merkley levels in fish, people eat the fish, they actually get mercury poisoning. this happens in honolulu all the time. we like our fish. people go to the e.r. all the time. they don't know what it is. it turns out it's mercury poisoning. oklahomans aren't so lucky. while pruitt was busy trying to
kill the national mercury rules, the number of oklahoma lakes listed for mercury contamination was climbing. this year the state lists 40 lakes with fish consumption advisories due to mercury levels, up from 19 listed in 2010. eight lakes were added just this year. another attorney general might have been trying to identify the sources of the pollution, but pruitt was apparently too busy suing the e.p.a. pruitt also attacks limits on ground level ozone. now, ground level ozone is smog. despite the fact that ozone problems are acute and worsening in oklahoma. the latest american lung association report gave all oklahoma counties surveyed an f for ozone problems and found that the number of high ozone days had increased in most counties to -- from 2010-2012. the argument in this article can be boiled down to a single
phrase. with mr. pruitt leading the e.p.a., we can bet that as goes oklahoma, so goes the nation. i can't speak for the people of oklahoma, but i can also -- but i can say that when it comes to these kinds of statistics on polluted air and water, we'd like to pass. and i'm sure if you asked most people in this country, they'd agree this is not the kind of environment they'd like their kids to grow up in. another disturbing statement mr. pruitt has made is about lead. we've seen lead levels in both kids and adults drop by 80% in the past few decades. this the one of the legacy achievements of this agency. this is something that the next leader of the e.p.a. should understand. but the senior senator from maryland, senator cardin, raised this during a confirmation hearing. senator asked mr. pruitt if there's any safe level of lead that can be taken into the human body, particularly a young
person. another soft ball question. and here's how mr. pruitt answered him. senator, that is something i have not reviewed nor know about. now, this is pretty alarming, because clearly he does not understand that in just 30 years this is an issue that the e.p.a. has taken on as a high priority. this is an issue that we need the next leader to take seriously so that we don't see any kind of backsliding. if you look at mr. pruitt's actions, they do in fact speak loudly about his approach to the e.p.a. here's another news report. the new administration is reportedly looking to close the office of enforcement and compliance assurance and instead let individual program offices handle enforcement. the outlet inside e.p.a. quoted a source familiar with the plan who says the trump administration intends to disasemble the enforcement
office, take it, break it up, and move it back into the program offices. environmental advocates were quick to point out that scott pruitt, the oklahoma attorney general trump picked to lead the e.p.a., made almost the same move back home. pruitt closed his office's environmental protection unit not long after he took office in 2011. mr. president, how much time do i have remaining? the presiding officer: you have 14 minutes remaining. shatt-al-ara-- mr. schatz: but, mr. pruitt did more than close oklahoma's s environmental protection unit. he also closed a unit solely dedicated to suing the e.p.a. sets up a unit to sue the e.p.a. that is all they dovment the other unit that people in oklahoma might count on for water contamination or illegal
dimping. with their help,s has filed more than a dozen lawsuits against the a. he has sued the e.p.a. because of the way it tackles cross-state air pollution and the agency's limits to oil and gas pollution. he has sued to allow air pollution when facilities start up, shut down, malfunction, and to stop plans to address air pollution in his home state. he's sued the e.p.a. because he disagrees with the clean power plan, which will prevent and estimated 90,000 asthma attacks every year while saving american families money on their electric bill. he sued to end protections against carbon pollution from new power plants, even though these protections will cost companies very little to implement. and he challenged the clean water rule which the e.p.a. says protects the streams and wetlands that form the foundation of water resources, and this is not a comprehensive list. i think there are 17 lawsuits. guess what? some of them are still pending, and mr. pruitt was asked, will
you recuse yourself from the lawsuits in which you are the plaintiff? and he refused. so he is going to be the plaintiff and the defendant. i'm sure mr. pruitt is a good person. i'm sure he's good to his family. but he also needs to be good to the american people and faithful to the laws, the clean air act and the clean water act and the endangered species act. these are the foundations of what the e.p.a. does and he doesn't get to have an opinion about those laws. he gets to implement those laws. he wants to run for office, he gets to run for office and change those laws. he wants to referee in the courts what authorities exist under those laws, he can litigate on that basis. but if he's going to be the e.p.a. administrator, he's got to check his ideological baggage at the door. and there's only one way we can be sure that he woangts take his biases to the e.p.a. and i don't understand why these
confirmation hearing he didn't say, hey look, anywhere i've brought suit, anywhere i'm a plarvetion i'm out. it is not unusual for a nominee to say on certain issues, i'll recuse. there's ample precedent. it was done this year. it's also just plain common sense. it is the moral thing torksd the ethical thing to do, also politically smart because it is kind of a -- it is a problem that this person wants to remain plaintiff and defendant. so it's disappointing and it's worrying. the agenda needs to be to uphold the agency's mandate, not to dis-management l what the e.p.a. -- not to dismantle when the e.p.a. has already done. senator booker asked mr. pruitt how many kids in oklahoma had asthma. it's a fair question to ask when you consider how many lawsuits mr. pruitt has filed against the e.p.a. that if he wins will increase air pollution. and you can bet that more air pollution will hurt those kids who already have trouble breathing.
mr. pruitt did not know how many kids in his home state have asthma, but here's the answer: one in ten. one in ten kids have asthma. and if mr. pruitt takes over the e.p.a., he is no longer responsible for just the kids in oklahoma who have asthma, he's also responsible for the kids across the country and, in my home state of hawaii. there are millions of people in the united states who suffer from asthma and for each and every one of theming, not to mention the countless others at risk, scott pruitt guarantees that it will become harder to breathe. scott pruitt is going to guarantee that it becomes harder to breathe because he has sued the e.p.a. to end the regulations that keep our air clean enough for us to breathe. never before in the history of the environmental protection agency has a president nominated someone so opposed to the
mission of the e.p.a. look, this administration has made it very clear where it stands on climate, on science, on protecting clean air and clean water. we've seen climate change called a chinese hoax. we've heard rumors that scientists will be muzzled and research stopped. we've seen the president sign a law that allows oil companies to hide what kinds of payments it's 345eubging to foreign government -- making to foreign governments in ex-chapping for extracting oil. so there's no question that girty energy is -- dirty energy is preferred by the current administration. but that doesn't mean that the senate has to be a rubber stamp here. we're the senate. and the united states senate has a specific role under our constitution and in our history. and there comes a time where issues related to party have to
be subsumed by issues related to the health and welfare of the country. and we have strayed from the bipartisan consensus that existed for decades and decades and decades. the basic premise that it's an american value in every small town, in every urban place, from coast to coast, and everywhere in between. the everybody likes clean air and clean water. everybody at some point on a weekend wants to drive someplace or walk someplace and just be outside and be able to take a deep breath, enjoy your family, enjoy your friends, enjoy not having to work for two or three hours, go fishing, go hunting, go hiking, go surfing, go snow
boarding, go snowing, whatever it is that people like to do to kind of restore themselves. that depends on our commitment to a legacy and it depends on our commitment to these statutes. it really does. it depends on our commitment to the clean air act and to the clean water act and to the endangered species act. and i'll just close with this. i have never seen the senate in such a rush when there's not an actual deadline. i mean, we hurry when the government may shut down, sometimes we screw that up, too. but usually when we're in a hurry like this, when we're doing all-nights, there's a reason for it. and i think it is just weird that congressional delegation trips overseas were canceled, multiple members on a bipartisan
basis were supposed to be meeting with nato allies by about two hours from now, but all that have got canceled and we normally -- our last vote is usually on a thursday afternoon, maybe on a friday morning. this vote is at 1:00 p.m. on friday. that is because somebody is bound and determined to get this vote done before those 3,000 e-mails between scott pruitt and a bunch of energy companies are disclosed. and this is not a theoretical thing anymore. there was some talk about whether this was going to be disclosed. now a judge is ordering that these e-mails get disclosed. and so now everybody seems to be in an incredible hurry to make sure that we conduct this vote before those e-mails are disclosed. and you know, i was talking to senator quhows and senator merkley about the continent tent of those e-mails. here's what i know. i know that the attorney general spent 750 days trying not to
disclose those e-mails. i know that there are they're between him hand a bunch of energy companies. i know that there seems to be a strong motivation on the republican side to conduct the vote before we get the e-mails. and in the world's greatest deliberative body, it seems absolutely reasonable and consistent with our constitutional obligation to provide advice and consent on nominees and especially for a cabinet position as important as this, it just seems like we should probably wait to see what's in those e-mails. and if i were a republican on the other side, i would be very uncomfortable casting a yes vote and then i'd be waking up tuesday morning probably 1 -- probably 1:00 a.m. checking on those e-mails on the internet
and hoping there's nothing explosive in knows e-mails. i do not want to know that we've just confirmed someone who is inappropriate for the e.p.a. but we're going to know by tuesday. so if my kerps are not well-founded -- so if my concerns are not well-founded, great, we goat vote two years weeks ---to-two weeks from now u why not wait to find out ghast those e-mails. i urge a no vote tomorrow. more than that, i urge that we give ours self the -- ourselves the time to deliberate and to be a sneat. a senate. i yield the floor. ms. duckworth: mr. president, i'd like to take this time to share with my colleagues why scott pruitt is unqualified to be the administrator of the e.p.a. and why i oppose his nomination. you know, i just got a new job here in the senate when the people of illinois elected me last november and i have a little bit of advice for mr. pruitt on how to succeed in an interview.
number one, you don't go to a job interview and spend the entire time dodging questions. you don't tell the people interviewing you that they should go file document requests, which mr. pruitt can reject as the current attorney general. and you don't oppose policies that strengthen our energy security like the renewable fuel standard. i am concerninged that the r.f.s. will be gutted under a scott pruitt-led e.p.a. you know, someone who fought to defend this great narks i have seen firsthand the price we pay for our dangerous dependence on oil imported from adversaries. i would rather run my car on american-grown corn and soybeans than on oil from the middle east. during operation iraqi freedom, 50% of all casualties occurred between convoy operations. and 80% of all convoy operations were conducted to transport diesel fuel. i think it's high time we invest more energy and more money and
more support into developing biofuels like ethanol. in addition to risking lives, we are wasting resources. we spend annually approximately $67.5 billion protecting global oil supplies. at home, americans are using more gas than ever before, yet opec has made it clear that they are controlling the price that we pay at the at the pump. for example, in november of 2016, opec decided to cut its oil production to increase prices and that caused a 10% increase in price that very day. by december 12, prices had reached an 18-month high. we should not be risking lives and wasting money when we can use energy grown right here at home. in states like mine. while we're producing more oil at home than ever before, that doesn't mean we can gut policies that are helping our nation become energy-independent. we need an e.p.a. administrator
who will work with congress to help us find ways to cut, not increase, our use of oil. but scott pruitt called the r.f.s. unworkable. he clearly doesn't know that the renewable fuel standard is delivering triple bottom-line benefits. it's good for our security, it's good for our economy, and it's good for our climate. in my state of illinois alone, the i.r.s. employs more than 5,000 people and generates more than $5 billion in economic impact. nationwide it's supporting 86,000 direct jobs. those are good jobs with good wages. those are people who are going home and paying their mortgages, sending their kids to school and saving money towards retirement. and it's helped generate $8.7 billion in tax revenues that go to schools, roads, and first responders. mr. pruitt's failure to support the r. fnchtsz s. is not the -- r.f.s. is not the only reason i oppose his nomination fl during
his confirmation hearing before the environment and public works committee which i sit on, mr. pruitt gave vague, hollow and evasive answers. it was clear he either doesn't support or understand the mission of the very agency that he would like to lead. mr. pruitt, the mission of the environmental protection agency is to protect the basic ingredients that people need for a good life. it's to protect our air and our water. these issues, public health issues, are what he spent his career helping big oil to dismantle. take the issue of lead poisoning. one of the responsibilities of the e.p.a. is to enforce our lead contamination laws that keep lead out of our air and water. when questioned at his confirmation hearing, i was shocked that mr. pruitt was unaware that there is no safe level of lead for children. as a mom this terrifies me. i remember sitting in the house oversight government reform
committee when we had hearings on the flint water crisis, and, you know, i'm a mom of a 2-year-old. at the time my baby was just a year old and i remember being pregnant and having my daughter and i looked out into that audience and i saw a mom holding a baby bottle that looked exactly like one that my daughter drank out of, a little bottle with a pink top on it and the water in her baby bottle that she had to make her formula with was brown. it was brown. i thought about what it would have been like for me to have been drinking that water while i was pregnant and to have to feed that water to my child and have the choice to be whether or not i could afford bottled water or would i have to feed my daughter that water. it's not acceptable, not in the greatest country on the face of the earth. and mr. pruitt doesn't know, he doesn't know that there's no safe level of led allowable in the drinking water for children? even low levels of lead can
cause permanent brain damage in kids, lowering i.q. and inflicting other cognitive damage. and there's no excuse for our nation's e.p.a. administrator to not know that basic fact. that's a serious oversight especially in the aftermath of the flint water crisis. lead in schools and in public waterways is a serious problem for illinois children as well as the children of michigan. it's a problem for families. it's a problem for families and children all across this nation. the e.p.a. works pro actively to prevent crisis like flint and protect american water supplies but mr. pruitt's record of filing lawsuit after lawsuit challenging the e.p.a.'s authority to carry out his mission doesn't inspire much confidence that his goals are the same as the agency that he seeks to lead. the american people simply can't afford to have someone with a well documented history of putting corporate polluter
profits before our clean air and water leading the agency that is meant to safeguard them, the e.p.a. we are only starting to learn the extent of mr. pruitt's conflicts of interests. and we have an opportunity to learn more about these conflicts now that a state judge in oklahoma has ordered mr. pruitt to release by tuesday potentially thousands of e-mails the exchange with fossil fuel interests in his job as the oklahoma attorney general. senate republicans are forcing us to vote mr. pruitt before tuesday because they know, they know the american people will be alarmed and shocked by what his correspondence will reveal. he has shown he's unwilling and unable to do this job. i remember during questioning in committee he was asked what was the role of the e.p.a. he spent the majority of his answer talking about the federal government not infringing on
states' rights, talking about pulling the federal government and the e.p.a. out of the state's business and at the end did he add almost as an afterthought oh, yes, and to safeguard the water and the air. the name of the agency is the environmental protection agency. that should have been the first thing he said, not the last. he doesn't understand the central public health and environmental challenges that face us. instead of siding with people, he has chosen to side with corporate polluters. he doesn't have a single environmental accomplishment to his name. he is unqualified and i urge my colleagues to join me in opposing his nomination. you know, as someone who represents a farming state, i remember, i remember when president trump came out to the midwest and promised the american farmer that he would support the renewable fuel standard. i am deeply disappointed that he has nominated someone to head the e.p.a. who is clearly
opposed to the renewable fuel standards. i asked mr. pruitt several times in committee in several different ways if he would stand by the american farmer. i even told him what the right answer was. side with, stand with, protect the producers. and he refused to answer. he gave vague evasive answers and refused to commit and refused to support the american farmer. it's a no brainer. support the american farmer. don't break the president's promise. don't back away from the r.f.s. you know, mr. pruitt is continuing this administration's tradition of using alternative facts. the alternative to facts is fiction and we can't afford to have an administrator who questions climate change. climate change is an urgent threat to our nation. increasing temperatures are causing extreme weather events at alarming rates. we are witnessing more intense
droughts, wildfires, and extreme weather across this country. if we put our heads in the sand and fail to curb the pollution driving climate change, the effects will be devastating. our air quality will worsen which will trigger more asthma attacks and other respiratory issues for our children. our coastal communities will be threatened by sea level rise. our national security will be threatened as climate change creates instability around the world. admiral mike mullen who served as chairman of the joints chief of staff under the bush and obama administrations had this to say about climate change. and i quote, whatever the root cause, climate change's potential impacts are sobering and far-reaching. glaciers are melting at a faster rate causing water supplies to diminish in asia, rising sea levels could lead to a mass migration and displacement similar to what we saw in pakistan's 2010 floods.
the national intelligence council's report global trends 2030 made similar observations. their report states, many developing and fragile states such as subsaharan africa face increasing strains from resource constraints and climate change pitting different tribal and ethnic groups against one another and accentuating the various identities. climate change, clean air, clean water and fighting lake contamination aren't partisan issues. we don't only have these issues in red states or blue states. they are universal. and the american people expect us to make sure the head of the agency charged with safeguarding these vital public health priorities will be able and willing to do the job. you know, since mr. pruitt was nominated i have heard concerns from thousands of my constituents. let me share a few words that i received from my home state. this letter is from one of my
constituents from illinois and he says, and i quote, i am asking you to vote no on scott pruitt's nomination as administrator of the environmental protection agency. america's clean water and air are a shining example for how much of the world and the e.p.a. is their defender. mr. pruitt demonstrates no understanding of ocean acidification and the urgent risk is poses to american marine life, fishermen and the communities that depend on them. americans must protect our water and air from further pollution while we work collaboratively towards win-win solutions to challenges like ocean acidification. mr. pruitt ignores established science and he's the wrong choice to lead the e.p.a. as my senator please vote no on my behalf. i hear you and i share your concerns, and i will be voting no on mr. pruitt as
administrator of the e.p.a. you know, as you may know, e.p.a. region five is based in my state in chicago. i've heard from a number of e.p.a. employees as well as constituents. these employees both past and present who are worried about the agency they have served and loved. here are some words from a former e.p.a. region five employee, and he says, dear senator duckworth, i and many other former employees of the environmental protection agency want to share our concern about attorney general scott pruitt's qualifications to serve as the next administrator of the e.p.a. our perspective is not partisan. having served under both republican and democratic presidents, we recognize the right of a new administration to pursue new policies that protect our environment. but e.p.a.'s administrator must act in the public's interest and not simply advance the agendas of the industries that it regulates. decisions that affect the public's health or natural
resources should respect the law and reflect the best scientific evidence available. mr. pruitt's record and public statements suggest that he does not share these values. as oklahoma's attorney general, mr. pruitt issued more than 50 press releases celebrating lawsuits to overturn e.p.a. standards to limit mercury emissions from power plants, reduce smog levels in cities and regional haze in parks, clean up the chesapeake bay or control greenhouse gas emissions. in contrast none of mr. pruitt's press releases refer to any action he has taken to enforce environmental laws or to actually reduce pollution. of even greater concern his statements frequently ignore or misrepresent e.p.a.'s authority to regulate or its obligation to do so under the clean air or clean water acts. mr. pruitt has shown little interest in the kind of
scientific and factual evidence that must guide e.p.a. decisions. mr. pruitt has said that humanity's contribution to global warming is subject to considerable debate. that statement is at odds with the consensus among scientists. mr. pruitt fails to understand the difference between the public interest and private interest. you know, it is just amazing to me that we are even here, that we're even here, that this man was even nominated, someone who has sued the e.p.a., someone who has so clearly been in partnership with the fossil fuel industry, who has not put the interests of families and children first as opposed to the interests of the fossil fuel industries who have been guiding him all the way. i in fact was shocked to learn that look pruitt closed the oklahoma environmental
enforcement unit established by his predecessor. instead he established a new litigation team to challenge the e.p.a. and other federal agencies. let me say that again. when he became the oklahoma attorney general, he closed oklahoma environmental enforcement unit and instead he chose to start a new litigation team to challenge e.p.a. and other federal agencies. i don't see any indication from him from his confirmation hearing that he would not do the same once he gets to the federal e.p.a. and perhaps that is the intent of the trump administration, to bring someone in who will dismantle the e.p.a. but that's why i'm here tonight. that's why i'm opposing him because i put the needs of our children, the needs of our environment, the needs of our national security in front of the needs of the biofuel industry. you know, we need an administrator who has the
patience, skill, and commitment to public service to steer the e.p.a. through challenges associated with protecting our public health. i, too, do not believe mr. pruitt has demonstrated that he has the qualities needed to lead the environmental protection agency. i hope you will be happy to know that. that is why i am opposing his nomination. constituents from deerfield, illinois, wrote to me and said, i am writing to ask that you raise your voice in washington against scott pruitt as president trump's nominee for e.p.a. administrator. the e.p.a. is an organization driven by science and dedicated to protecting the climate and environment, not just for americans but for all citizens of the earth. mr. pruitt on the other hand disagrees with the vast majority of the scientific establishment as to the extent of climate change and humanity's role in it. he has made a name for himself
by opposing e.p.a.'s policies and missions in the past. it is beyond me that anyone believes mr. pruitt could effectively head the e.p.a. and lead it further in its mission to ensure we are responsible stewards of this planet's environment and resources. i ask that you do your duty as a citizen of this planet and vote no on mr. pruitt for this position. i hope i hope you also do your duty as a reading of the amendment of the american people by vocalizing our concerns about mr. pruitt your honoring them to see the -- urging them to see the folly. i'm doing exactly that. that is why i am here today, to make sure that my colleagues understand that how poorly suited mr. pruitt is to this job of administrator of the environmental protection agency. here esea lower from a -- here's a letter from ph.d. student.
as northwestern university doctoral student, i have chosen to devote life to the pursuit of scientific knowledge. i am deeply troubled by the nomination of scott pruitt and many a really concerned about the upcoming senate vote. the head of the e.p.a. must uphold basic science and should not be concluding - concluding g with the polluters their to regulate. scott pruitt cannot be trusted to head the earnings an agency charged with protecting all americans from threats to their water, air, and health. pruitt is also out of step with the vast majority of scientists, not only those working in the field of climate change but also those who have dedicated their lives to protecting our air and water. as a scientific agency charged with protecting the public's health, according to the best and most recent science, the e.p.a. deserves to be headed by someone with a scientific background, or at least an appreciation for scientific
truth. i strongly urge you as my senator to stand up for immediate and my neighbors and i oppose this nomination. thank you so much. amanda cook from north lakeview avenue in chicago. well, amanda, i get it. i'm with you. i of course did not pursue a ph.d. in scientific field, but it doesn't take a ph.d. in a scientific field to know that a man who has sued the e.p.a. over a dozen times is not someone suitable to lead the e.p.a., that a man who says that he doesn't know whether or not climate change truly is scientific fact should not be the man who's going to head the agency, enforced with dealing with the effects of global warming. he should not be the person who is in charge of the agency that will be protecting our air and our water supply. and we have not even touched on what the cost will be to this nation if we continue to neglect
our -- the well-being of our environment. rising rates of asthma among our children will mean higher medical costs, lead in the water supply causing cognitive damage to our children will mean additional resources must be spent in our schools in order to provide those children with the best tiewrntses that they have -- opportunities that they have to grow and thrive. and it will also result in greater medical bills to treat those children for the rest of their lives. if you don't believe me, just ask the people of flint, michigan. they're dealing with it every single day. every single day those parents have children who have now been affected by the lead in that water supply. and mr. pruitt -- mr. pruitt chooses to defend and protect the needs of the biofuel industry over the needs of our children? that is not someone worthy of representing the american
people. that is not someone worthy of heading this agency. and, you know, let's just stick to mr. pruitt's own words, not the words of oh, not the words of my constituents, but in his own words. this is what he said about the agency that he's been chosen to lead. mr. pruitt describes himself as, and i quote, a leading advocate against the e.p.a.'s activist agenda. he said this on his linkedin page. we bein accessed this in januarf 2016. on the role of the e.p.a., he said, an i quote, i believe the e.p.a. has a role to play in our republican form of government. air and water quality issues can cross state lines and can sometimes require federal intervention. at the same time, the e.p.a. was never intended to be our nation's front line environmental regulator. unquote. this was his testimony before the house committee on science,
space, and technology on may 2016. i disagree with you. i disagree with you, mr. pruitt, because i was there in that hearing when there were both state e.p.a. officials as well as federal e.p.a. officials trying to explain why they allowed detroit's children to be poisoned. and you know what? the federal e.p.a. officials knew about the lead in the water supply. in fact, had discovered it and were so timid about pursuing it that they waited too long and allowed the state to continue to move forward. those federal e.p.a. officials were indeed on the front line, and i asked the regional administrator, and i said, would you not rather be in front of this committee today explaining why you acted too quickly to save the health and the future well-being of the future of flint than to be here in front of us today explaining why you allowed them to be poisoned and
not exercise your right as the federal e.p.a. to step in when the health and well-being of america's citizens were at stake? so, mr. pruitt, i disagree with you. the e.p.a. was indeed intended to be one of our nation's frontline environmental regulators. on climate change, mr. pruitt has said, global warming has inspired one of the major policy debates of our time. that debate is far from settled. scientists continue to disagree about the degree and extent of global warming and its connections to the actions of mankind. that debate should be encouraged in classrooms, public forums and the halves congress. really? really? he is actually arguing that we should be teaching false science and should be encourage it in classrooms, public forums? i can't think of something that would be of a greater disservice
to america than for the e.p.a. administrator to be someone who actually looks at scientific data, proven scientific data, facts, and rejects them. yet we know why he does it. we know from his history, we know from his record in oklahoma, he does it because the fossil fuel industry tells him so. this is what he said about the clean power plan. the president could announce the most state-friendly plan possible but it would not change the fact that the administration does not have the legal authority under the clean air act to regulate carbon emissions. yes, it does. yes, it does, mr. pruitt. he just said that in august of 2015. heress what he said on they that inregulation. and i quote. my concern is that e.p.a. is employing its flawed methodology in order to rationalize new federal regulations to solve a
methane regulations problem that simply does not exist. this man does not believe in global warming. this man does not believe in scientific data. and if you don't believe the scientists, at least look at what is happening with the storm systems, with what's happening to the climate in this nation -- with the climate that, the change that is affecting this nation with increased drought, increased flooding, more severe weather, the erosion. we have the first climate change refugees in louisiana where people who have lived for generations in the gulf have now seen their islands washed away and have to be resettled. even if you don't believe in the data, believe your eyes and believe the facts. you know, mr. pruitt also said on mercury, and i quote, the record does not support e.p.a.'s finding thatmarkry poses public -- thatmarkry pose pose -- that mercury poses public held
hazards. that is simply untrue. on legislating, he is quoted, legislation should not be -- we like clean air so go make clean air. congress then gives this general grant of authority to e.p.a. on oklahoma's race to the bottom environmental regulations, this has to do with the federal regional haze standards, mr. pruitt said, threaten the competitive -- he says that these standards threaten the competitive edge oklahoma has enjoyed for years with low-cost and reliable electric generation. this low-cost energy not only benefits oklahoma manufacturers but gives our state a kcialg edge in recruiting new -- a considerable edge in recruiting new jobs. he would rather increase the haze in the environment. he would v. rather have an economic edge at the expense of the people of oklahoma who must live and breathe a more polluted air.
this is what he said on the renewable fuel standard. the evidence is clear that the current ethanol fuel mandate is unworkable. the decision by the e.p.a. to lower that standard is good news for oklahoma consumers. no, what he means is that it's good news for oklahoma' oklahomr fossil fuel producers. in fact, the renewable fuel standards has been a success and we should be adhering to them and we should be keeping the renewable fuel standards and supporting the producers. you know, i will bet on the american farmer any day of the week. our farmers work hard. our farmers produce the corn for ethanol right here in the united states. i'd rather invest in them than in foreign oil. i'd rather invest in them in a fuel that is clean-burning versus a fuel that pollutes the environment for the next generation of our nation.
and even if you don't believe in the science, believe in the dollars. ethanol and biofuels employ tens of thousands of hardworking americans all across this great nation. it accounts for large proportions of the economies of the farming states -- illinois, iowa, ohio. so even if you don't believe in the r.f.s., you should at least support it for -- to support our farming communities. you know, it's a fact that scott pruitt is simply too extreme to lead the e.p.a. he once wrote an entire op-ed questioning the science of climate change. and he said, understan and i qul has inspired one of the major policy debates of our time, that debate is far from settled. scientists continue to disagree
with the degree and extent of global warming and its connection to the actions of managekind. this is according to an op-ed written by scott pruitt in the "tull 10 world." healthy debate is the lifeblood. global has inspired one of the major great debates of our time. i agree that healthy debate is important to democracy. but it should be -- but when that debate is over an item of fact, it's just sumly silly and in the case of the - clean air d clean water and climate change, it gets to be danger owssments his climate denial goes against the scientific community. 97% of sign tiforts, including those at nasa, agree that human activities are causing climate change. the 18 major national scientific organizations issued a joint statement with the following conclusion. observations throughout the
world make it clear that climate change is occurring and rigorous scientific research demonstrates that the greenhouse gases emitted by human activities are the primary driver. mr. pruitt's climate denial is also against the will of the american people. in fact, a "new york times" times"-stanford poll from 2015 showed that 77% of americans support government action to combat climate change. this poll found that 83% of americans, including 61% of republicans, say that if nothing is done to reduce emissions, global warming will be a serious problem in the future. 77% of americans according to this poll say that the federal government should be doing a substantial amount to combat climate change.
in a wawnl/nbc poll -- in a "wall street journal" nbc poll from 2009, 67% of americans stated that they supported e.p.a. action to curb carbon pollution from power plants. while only 29% opposed them. in that same poll, 57% support requiring companies to cut emissions, even if it means a higher power bill. this was an increase from 48% from october of 2009 to the poll that was conducted in june of 2014. you know, mr. pruitt's blatantly anti-environment agenda threatens public health. he is unfit to lead an agency that he sued at every turn to block protections for clean air and water. he's sued the e.p.a. over the legality of the clean power plan. he claims that the e.p.a. does not have the authority and that the clean air act to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. since becoming oklahoma's top
legal officer in 2011, mr. pruitt has unsuccessfully sued e.p.a. to stop vital protections of public health. unsuccessfully. this includes standards to reduce soot and smog pollution that crosses interstate lines, protections against emissions of mercury, arsenic, acid gases and other toxic pollutants from power plants, and standards to improve air quality in national parks and wilderness areas. each time he has done this, he has failed. and yet he continues to file suits, many of these suits he did in conjunction with the fossil fuel industry. some of those suits are still outstanding. yet he has said -- he has refused to commit to recusing himself from any of these lawsuits that may come in front of the e.p.a. while he is the administrator of the agency. this is a conflict of interest. he will simply become the
plaintiff, the judge and the jury if he does not recuse himself. but of course that is his goal. his goal is to dismantle the e.p.a. his goal is to dismantle the clean air, the clean water act. his goal is to take away the authority of the e.p.a., to regulate and protect those activities that affect our environment. mr. pruitt launched three separate failed lawsuits against e.p.a. clean air rules. the regional haze, cross state air pollution rule, and the mercury and air toxics protections otherwise known as maatps. it protects millions of children from the effects of mercury, arsenic and other dangerous neurotoxins from coal plants. mr. pruitt wants to block the e.p.a.'s clean water rule which will protect the drinking water
for over 117 million, that is one in three americans. you know, one in three americans get drinking water from seems that lack clear protections before the clean water rule. according to analysis of over 1200 peer review scientific reports, small streams and wetlands play a critical role in the health of larger downstream bodies such as rivers, lakes, bays, and coastal waters. mr. pruitt doesn't even want the e.p.a. to study fracking's potential links into water contamination. as reenltsdzly as 20 -- recently as 2014, he sent a letter to the e.p.a. office of inspector general warning against preliminary research into threats to water resources posed by hydraulic fracturing. he said he believe e.p.a.'s efforts to study fracking was linked to ground water contamination was politically motivated. he's even afraid of a study. he's not only trying to block the e.p.a.'s ability to
regulate, he doesn't want the e.p.a. to study it. he doesn't even want to have the chance to develop the data to show that our water supply is under danger from fracking. this man doesn't believe in scientific data. but he's afraid of it. if he weren't afraid of it, wee support these studies because it would show that he was right but here's the problem. he's not right. he's wrong. the scientific data shows that such activities pollute our water supply. mr. pruitt has failed to act to protect the people of oklahoma repeatedly from increasingly powerful earthquakes caused by fossil fuel extraction through the process of fracking as well. you know, we've had a string of level-five magnitude earthquakes hit the state of oklahoma. scientists have indicated that they are being caused by a dramatic rise in the use of hydraulic fracturing, fracking,
to produce oil and gas. the problem lies in the massive volumes of wastewater unearthed in the process of unlocking oil and gas. operators typically dump salty wastewater injecting high volumes of fluid into the disposal wells dug below the earth's surface but the pressure is wreaks havoc on the fault lines. the oklahoma geological survey bluntly concluded last year it was very likely that majority of earthquakes that ripped through the central and northern regions of the state were caused by this process of injecting wastewater into disposal wells. this was a report by nbc news in november of 2016. in 2016 the national review reported that mr. pruitt compared taking on big oil to -- british leading the american revolution. he said the united states was born out of a revolution against in the words of the declaration of independence an arbitrary
government that put men on trial for pretending offenses and abolish the free systems of english law. brave men and women stood up to that oppressive government and this, the greatest democracy of all one governed by the rule of law and not men -- some have forgotten the founding principle and acting more like george the iii. a group of democratic attorneys general have announced plans to investigate oil and gas companies that have disputed the science behind manmade global warming backed by green energy interests and environmental lobbying group the coalition has promised to use intrusive investigations, costly litigations and criminal prosecutions to silence critics of its climate change agenda. pretended offenses indeed. this is from the national review. really, he is comparing the efforts to take on big oil, to
offenses committed by the british leading to the american revolution. you know what? i'll take on big oil any day. i think that it's important for our nation's future. mr. president, as you've heard during the course of this debate, those of us who are troubled by the prospect of mr. pruitt becoming e.p.a. administrator believe that the process to this point has been marred by his failure to provide us with the information we feel we need to evaluate his suitability to serve in this critical role. meanwhile, our colleagues on the other side of the aisle argue that mr. pruitt has been fully forthcoming. so let's put this dispute aside and turn our attention to a question that mr. pruitt did answer. it may be among the most revealing of his responses. unfortunately, what his answer
reveals is the precise reason that so many of us and so many of the people we represent are opposed to his confirmation and convinced that he is absolutely the wrong person to head the agency. senator carper asked mr. pruitt, are there any other e.p.a. regulations that are on the books today that you do support? mr. pruitt declined to name a single one, not one. he has many that he could choose from. in fact, the question should have been something of a softball in my view giving him a chance to embrace the e.p.a.'s core mission as a public health agency. he couldn't find a single regulation that he could support within the e.p.a. the man who is supposed to be heading the e.p.a. could not think of a single regulation of this agency that he could support. instead what mr. pruitt does not seem to grasp is that e.p.a.
regulations are not simply policies to be litigated. in reality, they are life-saving protections for so many americans and they create millions of dollars of net benefits. let's take a look at some of the public health environmental protections mr. pruitt cannot bring himself to support. the mercury and air toxic standards have been projected to save up to 11,000 lives annually from premature death. 11,000 lives annually from premature death saved because of these regulations. they also prevent 4700 heart attacks and avoid 5,700 emergency room visits. that translates into over $80 billion in net benefits in a single year. that's a lot of lives saved, illnesses avoided and economic benefits created that a would-be e.p.a. administrator can't bring himself to support.
of course, we shouldn't have expected mr. pruitt to name that rule since he has sued to block it twice. the second time being after e.p.a. modified the rule to address concerns raised by the supreme court. perhaps the number of rules that we could expect mr. pruitt to support is a bit smaller than we might have thought since he sued to block so many of them. in case after case after case he has sued to block the e.p.a. from working to save lives, prevent illnesses, and create economic benefits. he has sued on behalf of oklahoma to block the cross state air pollution rule otherwise known as the good neighbor rule. that rule cuts the pollution that leads to dangerous, sometimes deadly urban smog and soot. when he sued he was suing to block the american public from enjoying the following benefits. up to 34,000 lives saved per year along with some $280
billion in health benefits. when mr. pruitt brought an action against e.p.a.'s health-base standards for ozone, he was standing in opposition of protections that would help avoid 660 premature deaths and over 230,000 asthma attacks while creating $4.5 billion in health benefits net of cost. you know, even if you don't believe in the science, you should at least believe in the dollars and cents of the lives saved and yet he continues to sue the e.p.a. to oppose these regulations. although mr. pruitt has been a tireless litigator, he has not challenged everyone of e.p.a.'s public health protections. but still when asked, the man who wants to become the administrator of the e.p.a. could not name a single regulation of the agency that he's about to take charge of
that he supported. so that means, for example, that mr. pruitt probably doesn't support a rule that reduces the sulfur in gasoline so that emissions control devices on cars can work more effectively. we all -- don't we all want cars to work more effectively? i guess he doesn't. this particular rule stands to create net benefits of up to $17.5 billion by 2030 and those dollar figures include the benefit of saferring up to 2 -- saving up to 2,000 lives. in 2015 the e.p.a. set standards for the admissions of toxic air pollutants at refineries. as a result, 1.4 million fewer people will be exposed to cancer risks -year-olding a 15% to 20% cancer reductions. mr. pruitt again is seeking to
be the e.p.a. administrator doesn't support those advancements in public health. he also doesn't support rules that are protecting the brain development of our children from exposure to lead in both gasoline and paint. otherwise he may have answered my colleague mr. carper by saying that he supported the highly successful gasoline lead phaseout that dates all the way back to 1988. that regulation produced health benefits to the tune of over $6 billion. he didn't even indicate that he supports a rule addressing childhood lead exposure in renovation repair and painting. mr. pruitt didn't even tell us that he supports rules that put or keep money in the pockets of families and businesses along with the environmental benefits that they deliver. e.p.a.'s greenhouse gas and fuel efficiency standards for cars and light duty trucks are
calculated to save families $1.7 trillion. that is a "t" in fuel costs. the e.p.a.'s 2012 rule limiting the emissions of volatile organic compounds in natural gas production were calculated to create up to $19 million in cost savings in 2015 alone because of the value of the material recovered in a process of controlling emissions. those benefits, however, did not inspire mr. pruitt to support them. the list of health protections that mr. pruitt does not support goes on and on and on. it includes health-based standards for fine particles which will chef between 3.7 billion and $9 billion in health benefits net of cost. all of the rules i have mentioned, mr. president, are just a representative sample, nowhere an exhaustive list.
when mr. pruitt declined to name a single environmental regulation that he supported, he showed us how little he supports a central mission of the e.p.a. which is not to produce rules and regulations but to take action that creates health, environmental and economic benefits for the american people. clearly along with much of his record, look pruitt is declining to tell us that he does support the environment health protection that e.p.a. established. it shows why he is not a suitable candidate to lead this agency. he has shown throughout his career that he has a blatantly antienvironmental agenda and this agenda threatens public health. he's not fit to lead this agency, an agency that has sued every single chance he's gotten to block protections for clean air and water. i wonder why he does that.
i wonder why. qul, here might be a -- well, here might be a reason why. according to the national institutes on money in state politics, we access this in december of last year just a few monthsing a, it appears that mr. pruitt has received over $314,000 from fossil fuel industry since 2002. according to them, scott pruitt has received a total of, as i said, $314,996. he received $8,201 in 202. $76,000 -- $76,970 in 2006, $1123, 150 in 2010 and $117,675 in 20146789 it just keeps growing and growing.
i guess he's being rewarded by the fossil fuel industry for suing the e.p.a. over and over again. i can't imagine why they would continue to give him more money other than the fact that he keeps suing the e.p.a. he's used letters written by devon energy lawyers to send to the e.p.a. according to "the new york times," he sent a letter to the e.p.a. from his own office that was written by lawyers of devon energy, one of oklahoma's biggest oil and gas companies and was brought to him by their chief lobbyist. what their chief lobbyist -- what mr. william witset, who at the time said on a note to mr. pruitt's office, mr. pruitt had taken devon's draft, copied it onto state government stationery with only a few word changes and send it to washington with the attorney general's signature.
well, i don't think that's acceptable. and i certainly don't think it is suitable -- it is a suitable way for someone who's going to head the e.p.a. to conduct himself. mr. president, i'd like to ask unanimous consent to submit for the record a january 17 letter from the african-american environmental justice community leaders. the presiding officer: without objection. ms. duckworth: thank you. stated in this letter, it says, and i quote, as the african-american leaders of environmental justice organizations, we urge the senators serving on the environment and public works committee to oppose the confirmation of scott pruitt as administrator of the u.s. environmental protection agency. we are outraged that mr. pruitt promises to set back and dismantle the policies and programs we have worked for more than 30 years to develop with
community urbanizations across the nation. there's nothing in mr. pruitt's record as a current oklahoma state attorney general to demonstrate that he would be dedicated to the mission of the e.p.a., which is to protect human health and environment, nor does his career indicate any action to improve environmental conditions in people of color communities who are disproportionately burdened with pollution. mr. pruitt appears to relish the opportunity to remove starnlingses that are -- standards that are recognizive our basic rights it a healthy and safe environment. case in point, mr. pruitt's dogged efforts to access the obama administration's clean power plan would have devastating effects on predominantly african-american communities. end quote. thank you, mr. president. now, mr. president, i'd like to ask unanimous consent to submit for the record a january 17 letter from the leaders of over 20 regional and nationwide latino civic organizations to
members of the senate. the presiding officer: without objection. ms. duckworth: thank you. stated in this letter it says, and i quote, as latino leaders, members and representatives of the undersigned organizations committed to efforts that support our communities' health, advancement, safety, and well-being and on behalf of the concerned communities we represent, we strongly urge you to oppose the president-elect's nominee to lead the a.m.a. e.p.a. -- the environmental protection agency. latinos overwhelmingly support actions to fight climate change. we recognize the importance of protecting the environment. 97% of latinos agree, we have a moral obligation to take care of our environment. in december, the national hispanic leadership agenda, a coalition of 40 of the leading latino organizations nationwide, voiced their opposition to mr. pruitt's nomination. putting the e.p.a. into
mr. pruitt's hands will threaten our children's health, turn back the clock on landmark efforts to clean up our acres water, and climate, and imperil the united states position as a global clean energy leader. end quote. thank you, mr. president. you know, i am also deeply concerned that we are holding this vote so quickly when not all of the evidence of mr. pruitt's activities has been brought to light. the fact of the matter is, we are still waiting for almost 2,000 e-mails to be released from his time as the oklahoma state attorney general. and only thursday afternoon was there a ruling that said those e-mails must be released. and yet we're going to hold a vote, and my colleagues will be forced to make a decision on behalf of their constituents of
their great states based on incomplete information. i don't understand the need to rush this. i don't understand why we would hold this vote so soon, so quickly when there are other nominees for other positions in the president's cabinet whom we could vote on, who do not have 2,000 hidden e-mails wait be to be released, waiting to be reviewed. you know, mr. president, i've served on the benghazi committee in the house. and i have to tell you, one of the refrains i heard over and over and over again from my republican colleagues and republican voices was that they just wanted to pursue transparency and they wanted to see all of the e-mails. and yet the very same people who were so dogged just not too longing a, now don't care to
looking at any e-mails when it comes to mr. pruitt. why is that? why are we see eager to have this vote? do you just want him to start dismantling the e.p.a. that much sooner? can't we wait a week? i think we are doing a disservice to the gentlemen and women who serve in this body. they deserve to have complete information before we hold this vote, and i think those e-mails that will be disclosed deserve to be looked at. they deserve the light of day, transparency, so that we can continue to evaluate and truly have more complete information on mr. pruitt and his time as the oklahoma state attorney general before we cast this vote. mr. president, i would like to ask unanimous consent to submit for the record a february 6 letter from nearly 500 former employees of the e.p.a. to leader mcconnell, the
unemotional -- the presiding officer: without objection. ms. duckworth: thank you. the unemotional lase lays out the fact directly and clearly and as such read as a scathing condemnation of the oklahoma attorney general. it says, and i quote, our perspective is not partisan. having served under both republican and democratic presidents, we recognize each new administration's right to pursue different policies within the parameters of existing law and to ask congress to change the laws to protect public health and the environment as it sees fit. in the large majority of cases, it was evident to us that they put the public's welfare ahead of private interests. scott pruitt has not demonstrated this same commitment. end quote. thank you, mr. president. mr. president, i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call: