Scott Pruitt was sworn in as the administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on February 17 after the U.S. Senate voted in favor, 52-46. The vote was mostly along party lines and capped a contentious nomination process for Pruitt, the former Oklahoma attorney general.
Pruitt has long been at odds with the agency he is now charged with leading. As the attorney general for Oklahoma he filed numerous lawsuits against the EPA and has pledged to roll back much of the legislation implemented during the Obama administration that he has called an overreach by the federal government.
The agency has 15,000 employees around the country and is responsible for enforcing laws on air, water and ground pollution, as well as numerous others.
To Republicans, Pruitt represented in a nominee exactly what the EPA needs: A leader who will roll back Obama’s aggressive environmental agenda and give states more power to enforce environmental laws, The Hill reported.
Democrats said that Pruitt’s litigious history with the EPA shows that he does not support its mission. They also pushed to delay his vote pending the release of emails between he and his staff at the attorney general’s office and industry.
In the Senate, Pruitt garnered the support of nearly all of the Republican senators who voted, as well as Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin (WV) and Heidi Heitkamp (ND), both of whom are running for reelection next year in states carried by Trump.
Sources say that Trump is planning to visit the EPA soon and sign a number of executive orders concerning regulations and other priorities he would like to get started with at the agency. Inside EPA first reported on the orders earlier this week.
Pruitt is planning to address EPA employees at the agency’s headquarters Tuesday.