(EnviroNews USA Headline News Desk) — Washington D.C. — Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) pressed Oklahoma Attorney General (AG) Scott Pruitt to clarify his stance on anthropogenic climate change during a Senate confirmation hearing on January 18, 2016. Pruitt is Donald Trump’s nominee to head the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Pruitt has been the AG in Oklahoma, a top U.S. oil and natural gas producer, since 2010, and is described in his bio as “a leading advocate against the EPA’s activist agenda.” He wrote in 2016, “Scientists continue to disagree about the degree and extent of global warming and its connection to the actions of mankind.”
Sanders asked Pruitt to respond to a statistic that 97 percent of climate scientists have named human activity as the primary cause of climate change — a stat to which NASA provides a corroborating statement as well: “97 percent or more of actively publishing climate scientists agree: Climate-warming trends over the past century are extremely likely due to human activities.”
Pruitt responded, “I believe the ability to measure with precision the degree of human activity’s impact on the climate is subject to more debate on whether the climate is changing or whether human activity is contributing to it.” Sanders asked Pruitt for his “personal opinion” on anthropogenic climate change and Pruitt responded that his own view was “immaterial.” Sanders replied, “Really!?”
Pruitt is a controversial nominee to head the EPA because he has sued the EPA at least 14 times, with eight of those cases still pending in the courts. Many of those litigations challenge clean air and water protections. Diane Regas, Executive Director of the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), explains in Forbes that in 13 of these suits, Pruitt’s co-litigators “were some of the biggest polluters in the nation.” The EDF researched and compiled a list of these cases, which was confirmed by The New York Times.
The EDF’s objection of Pruitt represents one of the only times the organization has opposed a nominee for EPA administrator. The 501c3 wrote in a post on its website that Pruitt, “brags about suing the agency, [and] calls climate science ‘unsettled,'” “tries to block every EPA rule he sees,” and, “receives big bucks from [the] fossil fuel industry.”
According to CNN, the National Institute on Money in State Politics reports that Pruitt has received over $300,000 from parties tied to the fossil fuel industry. In 2016, members of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee sent a letter to Pruitt requesting information on his involvement with the Rule of Law Defense Fund and its financial connection to the oil magnates, the Koch brothers.
Sanders concluded his session by questioning Pruitt about his lack of response to the earthquakes caused by fracking in Oklahoma.