One Republican senator is expected to vote against President Donald Trump’s nominee to head the Environmental Protection Agency.
“Due to my concerns about Mr. Pruitt’s commitment to the mission of the EPA, I will cast my vote in opposition to his confirmation,” Sen. Susan Collins of Maine said in a statement. Her primary objection was related to her concerns that Oklahoma AG Scott Pruitt’s numerous lawsuits against the agency could create conflict of interests.
The Oklahoma Republican will face a Senate confirmation vote on Friday. His nomination is likely to be approved unless several more Republicans join Collins’ cause. Republicans currently hold more than 50 seats in the 100-member Senate chamber.
The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee approved Pruitt’s nomination in early February after Democrats boycotted the vote. They object to the many lawsuits he has leveled against the EPA during his time as Oklahoma’s attorney general.
Pruitt is a critic of the agency and its Clean Power Plan, which entails heaping a trove of burdensome regulations on the coal industry. He will head the agency he’s fighting in court.
“His actions leave me with considerable doubts about whether his vision for the EPA is consistent with the agency’s critical mission to protect human health and the environment,” Collins said.
Trump, a climate change skeptic who once called global warming a “hoax,” made rolling back EPA regulations a key part of his campaign message, especially in Appalachia where power plant regulations have contributed to thousands of coal mine layoffs.
Environmentalists believe he’ll be the fossil fuel industry’s hand-puppet — basing their claims on reports asserting Pruitt regularly collaborates with fossil fuel companies to tamp down research related to climate change.
Collins also voted against Trump’s nomination for secretary of education, billionaire businesswoman Betsy DeVos. Vice President Mike Pence’s vote was needed to break a tie before DeVos was confirmed.
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