Scott Pruitt, appointed by Donald Trump to lead the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), today defended his plan to make the protection of the environment and fossil fuels compatible in a Senate committee, interrupted by constant protests.
“We can simultaneously pursue the common goals of environmental protection and economic growthPruitt said, skeptical about the impact of climate change.
In his first Senate confirmation hearing, Pruitt tried to defend himself against senators and environmental groups who believe that Trump's nominee hides serious conflicts of interest and, therefore, should not become the head of the agency in charge of enforcing the laws. environmental laws.
Specifically, Democratic senators repeatedly asked Pruitt about the $ 340 million that the energy industries allegedly donated to campaign groups that allowed him in 2011 to take over the Oklahoma State Attorney General's Office, a position he currently holds.
Will Scott Pruitt, a climate change denier who has received more than $ 340,000 from the fossil fuel industries, fight climate change? I don't think so, ”said Senator Bernie Sanders, a committee member and Hillary Clinton's rival in the Democratic primary.
Democratic senators also asked the Trump administration nominee if he is willing to defend the word of the millionaire, who in the electoral campaign denied the existence of climate change and even assured that it is a"Deception of the Chinese".
“I don't think climate change is a hoax ", Pruitt stood out, who has questioned on several occasions that human activity is the cause of climate change.
Pressed by Senator Sanders, Pruitt acknowledged that "human activity contributes in some way" to climate change, although he said that the "ability to measure the extent of that impact and what to do with it is subject to ongoing debate and dialogue."
Questions about your EPA reports
Faced with Pruitt's terse responses, Democrats tried to attack him with questions about the 14 lawsuits he filed against the environmental agency he now wants to lead.
The senators asked Pruitt about the possibility that, in his new position, he would become "judge and party" of the cases still open and, in response, the Trump nominee promised that he would withdraw from the open processes if he did so. requests the EPA ethics committee.
Upset among environmentalists
The nomination of Pruitt as head of the US environmental agency has generated great unease both among environmental groups, such as the Sierra Club, and among former members of the Government of President Barack Obama, which has made the fight against climate change part of its legacy.
“Latinos across the country, disproportionately affected by pollution and climate change, need an EPA director who is guided by science, champions the fight against climate change, and protects public health. Scott Pruitt will not do it, "Angela Barranco, a former White House official, told EFE.
Protests during the session
In fact, the protests marked a large part of the audience, which was interrupted several times by protesters.
"This is a public hearing, you can't kick me out!" Shouted a protester dressed in a blue one-piece suit with the initials of BP, the oil company sentenced to pay a millionaire fine for the environmental catastrophe caused by the oil spill. in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.
However, among the public was also a group of miners from Pennsylvania and West Virginia who were in favor of Pruitt, considering that it will end layoffs at the mines and return prosperity to the Midwest of the United States, impacted by the technological reconversion and globalization.
Trump, who will be inaugurated this Friday as president, has promised to end global agreements against climate change and repeal the Clean Energy Plan, proclaimed in 2015 by Obama and that seeks to reduce carbon emissions from power plants.
After several hearings in the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, Pruitt will face the vote of the plenary session of the upper house, where his confirmation seems feasible because he needs the favorable vote of 51 of the 100 senators and the Republicans count. with a majority of 52 seats.
Photo: EFE Reynolds