Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt will most likely face harsh questioning from the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on Tuesday when he is scheduled to testify for the first time before the committee.
“There will not be a lack of questioning. There are so many issues that we are concerned about: the manner of which the agency is protecting the environment, the use of scientific information, the use of scientific experts, the climate policies, the energy policy,” said Senator Ben Cardin.
Since taking office in February, Pruitt has rolled back a number of Obama-era initiatives and has downsized the agency, leaving hundreds of positions unfilled through a combination of buyouts, resignations and hiring freezes.
One of the most noteworthy changes he has made is to EPA’s advisory boards, recruiting more industry voices and barring scientists who receive EPA grants from being members. These policies, which have raised some serious concerns, could very well come up during the hearing.
“We’re going to put a spotlight on the most anti-environmental EPA administrator in American history. We’re going to make it very clear how public health in America is under assault because of his terrible stewardship of the most important of all agencies,” Senator Ed Markey said regarding the hearing.
“We’re going to try to make it more clear to the American people what the impact is of having someone like him at the EPA,” he added.
Republicans have stood in Pruitt’s defense, saying that he is only scaling back the regulatory overreach of the Obama administration. Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma maintained Pruitt was “doing a great job” and “responding to people.”
Democrats, on the other hand, have lashed out on the EPA administrator. A source said that Senate Democrats are approaching the upcoming hearing with the aim of making an impact.
“They want to land punches. This is basically red meat and the Democrats are a bunch of lions that are trying to get a bite,” the source said.
EPA spokesman Jahan Wilcox said Pruitt intends to use the hearing to promote his mission of protecting the public and the environment.
“From providing regulatory certainty, cleaning up toxic Superfund sites, starting the process to eradicate lead poisoning from our drinking water and much more, Administrator Pruitt will continue to uphold EPA’s core mission of protecting the environment and human health,” said the spokesman.