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Current, former EPA workers urge Congress to reject nominee Pruitt

By Doug G. Ware
Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, nominated to be the next administrator of the EPA, comments during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on January 18. Monday, hundreds of current and former EPA employees protested against Pruitt's nomination and urged the Senate to reject it. Photo by Mike Theiler/UPI
Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, nominated to be the next administrator of the EPA, comments during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on January 18. Monday, hundreds of current and former EPA employees protested against Pruitt's nomination and urged the Senate to reject it. Photo by Mike Theiler/UPI | License Photo

Feb. 6 (UPI) -- Hundreds of current and former employees of the Environmental Protection Agency spoke up loudly on Monday, hoping it will persuade the U.S. Senate to reject Scott Pruitt as President Donald Trump's leader in the agency.

Still Oklahoma's attorney general until confirmed, Pruitt is nominated as EPA administrator but his appointment has been met with staunch opposition -- partly due to questions surrounding his stance on global warming.

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Monday, dozens of former EPA employees sent a letter to the Senate pleading for the Oklahoman's dismissal from Trump's Cabinet.

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"Every EPA Administrator has a fundamental obligation to act in the public's interest based on current law and the best available science," the letter states. "Pruitt's record raises serious questions about whose interests he has served to date and whether he agrees with the longstanding tenets of U.S. environmental law."

Pruitt's nomination was passed onto the full Senate last week. He didn't get a full committee vote because Democrats on the panel refused to cast a ballot -- which then allowed Republicans to suspend the rules and send Pruitt's appointment to the full Senate.

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A full vote in the upper chamber for Pruitt has not yet been scheduled. Republicans, though, have said Pruitt is well-suited to handle the job.

Oklahoma's top law enforcement official since 2011, Pruitt fought often with former President Barack Obama's EPA. At his confirmation hearing last month, he told the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee that he does not believe climate change is a hoax -- a statement some critics say conflicts with previous remarks he's made on the issue.

Hundreds of former EPA employees sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., on Monday to call for the rejection of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt as President Donald Trump's choice to lead the environmental agency. The signatories expressed concern about Pruitt's track record and his stance on climate change. Image courtesy Environmentalintegrity.org

"We are most concerned about Mr. Pruitt's reluctance to accept and act on the strong scientific consensus on climate change," the letter says.

"Pruitt's record and public statements strongly suggest that he does not share the vision or agree with the underlying principles of our environmental laws. ... [He] has gone to disturbing lengths to advance the views and interests of business."

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The letter also states that Pruitt, a supporter of fossil fuels, has issued more than 50 press releases "celebrating lawsuits to overturn EPA standards" during his time as Oklahoma AG.

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Also Monday, dozens of EPA employees at the agency's Chicago office protested against Pruitt during their lunch break -- carrying signs and calling on the Senate to refuse his appointment.

"People are worried about losing their jobs because the administration is interested in dismantling, or downsizing in the extreme, the EPA," organizer Nicole Cantello, chief steward of the American Federation of Government Employees Local 704, said.

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