Citing his close ties to the oil industry, Florida Democratic Senator Bill Nelson said Thursday that he will be voting against Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt’s nomination to lead the Environmental Protection Agency.
“It’s been well documented that the president’s pick is a friend of the oil industry,” Nelson said on the floor of the Senate. “There’s nothing wrong with that, but this is an industry that has invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in political contributions to Mr. Pruitt and the PACs supporting him over the years.
Pruitt has received more than $200,000 in individual and PAC money from energy industry companies and employees since 2010.
As Oklahoma Attorney General, he went to court to fight more the 14 times, including President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan. And according to a letter from more than 400 former EPA workers last week, issued more than 50 press releases celebrating lawsuits to overturn EPA standards to limit mercury emissions from power plants, reduce smog and haze, clean up the Chesapeake Bay and control greenhouse gases.
In his confirmation hearing, Pruitt notably said that he did not believe that climate change was a hoax. But Nelson says he also said that his views on climate change are immaterial to the job of the EPA administrator. Not so, said the senator.
“I can’t think of a more relevant issue for our EPA administrator to be concerned because Florida is ground zero when it comes to the effects of sea-level rise,” Nelson said, adding that “it’s critical that we have an EPA administrator that understands there are things that are happening because of climate change. It’s not immaterial to the job of the EPA administrator. It’s very relevant.”
On Wednesday, Maine’s Susan Collins became the first Republican Senator to announce her opposition to Pruitt’s nomination.
A final vote is expected before Friday evening.