Scott Pruitt Takes the Helm at the EPA

"Scott Pruitt and Senate Republicans have made a mockery of the confirmation process, permitting the nominee to escape scrutiny and hide his deep ties to the fossil fuel industry", Sierra Club Legislative Director Melinda Pierce said in a written statement.

Rather than wait to see what Pruitt's office has been trying to hide in those emails, Senate Republicans rushed a vote-and early Friday afternoon confirmed Pruitt to serve as EPA administrator by a 52-46 vote. Two Democrats from energy-producing states, Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, voted for his confirmation.

He assumes control of an agency that under former president Barack Obama was responsible for implementing sweeping environmental regulations governing clean air and water, greenhouse gases and vehicle fuel emissions.

Just in case you hadn't heard, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been silenced by the Trump administration.

On Thursday an Oklahoma judge ordered that Pruitt's office provide a liberal watchdog group about 3,000 emails said to contain conversations between the attorney general's office and representatives of oil, gas, and coal companies.

"Attorney General Pruitt has been more thoroughly vetted than any nominee for EPA administrator", said Sen.

But the Republican-controlled Senate voted in favour of his confirmation by 52 to 46. Susan Collins of ME was the only Republican to vote against Pruitt.

Mr Pruitt will likely attempt to cut through the "regulatory rampage" that Republicans believe the EPA has embarked on over the past eight years - but he needs to be wary of over-reach.

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In a post to its official Twitter account immediately after the vote, EPA said "We'd like to congratulate Mr. Pruitt on his confirmation!"

Pruitt, 48, is a former state senator and unsuccessful candidate for Oklahoma lieutenant governor.

Pruitt was confirmed despite protests from Democrats, who demanded his confirmation be delayed after a judge on Thursday issued an order to force Pruitt to release thousands of documents that show his communications with the oil industry.

Pruitt has been designated as a climate change denier by the environmental community, has fought implementation of the EPA's Clean Power Plan, and has been a staunch critic of the U.S. EPA. A number of other conservative state attorneys general joined many of his lawsuits, including Ohio's Mike DeWine.

"It seems like Trump and Pruitt want a complete reversal of what EPA has done", Nicole Cantello, an EPA lawyer who heads the Chicago branch of the union representing EPA's 15,000 employees nationwide.

Scott Pruitt-who spent years challenging the Environmental Protection Agency's authority to regulate the air, water, and climate-was confirmed by the Senate on Friday and will become that agency's next administrator.

McCain had planned to depart with 11 other senators and four House members on a military plane in time for the Arizona Republican to take part in a panel discussion at the Munich Security Conference on Friday evening.

Pruitt built his political career fighting federal regulations he said stripped power away from states, frequently tangling with the very agency he will now head.

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