Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

This #GivingTuesday, whatever is your first priority, your second priority has to be independent media.

2021 has been one of the most dangerous and difficult years for independent journalism that we’ve ever seen. Our democracy is facing existential threats including the climate emergency, vaccine apartheid amid deadly pandemic, a global crisis for biodiversity, reproductive freedoms under assault, rising authoritarianism worldwide, and corporate-funded corruption of democracy that run beneath all of this. Giving Tuesday is a critical opportunity to make sure our journalism remains funded so that we can stay focused on all your priority issues. Please contribute today to keep Common Dreams alive and growing.

Please Help This #GivingTuesday -- Though our content is free to all, less than 1% of our readers give. We’re counting on you. Please help Common Dreams end the year strong.

EPA Nominee Pruitt's Hearing Shows Him Poised to Be "Every Polluter's Ally"

Bernie Sanders and others blasted Scott Pruitt's anti-environment record on Wednesday, echoing scores of groups that oppose to his nomination

Deirdre Fulton

President-elect Donald Trump's pick to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt. (Screenshot)

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt) and his Democratic colleagues on the Senate Environment and Public Works committee dug into Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) nominee Scott Pruitt on Wednesday, blasting his record of suing the very agency he's been selected to lead, and putting his fossil fuel industry ties front and center. 

As Ben Jervey and Steve Horn reported for DeSmog Blog, the morning hearing unfolded in something of a pattern, with "Republican members complimenting the [Oklahoma] attorney general and lobbing him softball questions, and the Democrats grilling him on his stance on climate science, his ties to the fossil fuel industry, and his perspective on what role the EPA has in actually, well, protecting the environment."

"Ninety-seven percent of the scientists who wrote articles in peer-reviewed journals believe that human activity is the fundamental reason we are seeing climate change. Do you disagree with that?" Sanders asked Pruitt. 

While Pruitt didn't deny that humans are at least partially contributing to global warming, he wouldn't be tied down on to what extent that is true. "I believe the ability to measure with precision the degree of human activity's impact on the climate is subject to more debate," he said.

Sanders pressed further, asking point-blank: "Why is the climate changing?" As Pruitt waffled, Sanders interjected, "I'm asking your personal opinion." 

"My personal opinion is immaterial to the job I'm carrying out," Pruitt told the Senate committee.

Sanders scoffed in response. "You are going to be the head of the agency to protect the environment, and your personal feelings about whether climate change is caused by human activity and carbon emissions is immaterial?" he asked.

Watch below:

The Hill reports:

Sanders also briefly pressed Pruitt on why he didn't do more, or at least say more, regarding the sharp increase in earthquakes in Oklahoma caused by the oil and natural gas drilling industry.

Pruitt said only that he was "concerned" about the quakes, and Oklahoma's Corporation Commission is the primary body regulating that, not his office.

"If that's the kind of EPA administrator you will be," Sanders said, "you're not going to get my vote."

When it was her turn, Sen. Kristen Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) spoke passionately about how environmental regulations impact human health. 

Meanwhile, several senators called out Pruitt's ties to the fossil fuels sector, with Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) holding up a chart illustrating how Pruitt has benefited financially from entities including Devon Energy, Southern Company, Koch Industries, and ExxonMobil. 

Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) focused on a letter Pruitt's office sent to the EPA—one revealed by the New York Times to have been written almost entirely by Devon Energy. "A public office is about serving the public," Merkley said. "You used your office as a direct extension of an oil company rather than a direct extension of the public health of the people of Oklahoma."

And Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) "warned that Americans will view the EPA as 'every polluter's ally' unless [Pruitt] commits to completely recusing himself from ongoing litigation Oklahoma has taken against the EPA," as NBC News reported

"Otherwise, honestly, people are going to think it's not just the fox guarding the hen house. It's the fox destroying the hen house," Markey said. 

Pruitt would not do so. 

The hearing took place as major scientific agencies announced that 2016 was the hottest year on record, for the third year in a row.

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

... We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

New Climate Study Predicting More Rain Than Snow in the Arctic 'Rings Alarm Bells'

"There are huge ramifications of these changes," said the lead researcher, "all of which have implications on wildlife populations and human livelihoods."

Jessica Corbett ·

Durbin Introduces Amendment to End 'Legacy of Cruelty' by Closing Guantánamo

"It's time at long last to face reality and... close the detention facility at Guantánamo. Let's put this dark chapter behind us once and for all."

Brett Wilkins ·

As Executives Hike Prices, US Corporations Rake in Biggest Profits Since 1950

"Prices are high," said Sen. Sherrod Brown, "because corporations are raising them—so they can keep paying themselves with ever-larger executive bonuses and stock buybacks."

Jake Johnson ·

47 Groups Urge Congress to Avert 'Human Rights Failure' by Blocking Biden's Saudi Arms Sale

"The Biden administration in its very first weeks committed both to center human rights in foreign policy and to end U.S. complicity in the war in Yemen. Allowing this sale to stand breaks that commitment."

Brett Wilkins ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.

Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo