Democrats’ Limitations in Pruitt Fight ‘A Reality': Sen. Carper

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By Rachel Leven

Senate Democrats may face an uphill battle if they decide to fight Environmental Protection Agency nominee Scott Pruitt’s nomination after his confirmation hearing, a senior Democratic senator told Bloomberg BNA Jan. 12.

When Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) was asked whether he would be willing to put a hold on the nomination if the Oklahoma attorney general’s answers weren’t satisfactory in the hearing, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee’s ranking member demurred.

“The process has changed a lot. We used to be able to stop a nominee with 41 votes. We can’t do that any more. There’s no cloture vote, so it’s up-or-down simple majority,” Carper said. “And the ability of the minority to slow down the process is much diminished because of those changes. So that’s a reality we need to live with.”

Democrats and environmentalists have widely decried Pruitt’s nomination. He has taken several stances fighting the EPA, including suing over the Clean Power Plan in federal court. Carper said that he and his staff are focused on conducting a fair hearing and listening to what Pruitt has to say.

Backing ‘Sound Science’

At the Jan. 18 confirmation hearing, Carper will be looking to Pruitt for certain qualities such as integrity, he said. Carper will also be looking for actions backing “sound science” that would put the EPA in a place to make progress addressing climate change and other issues, he and environmentalists said at a Jan. 12 event fighting “alternative” science. “Alt-science” refers to non-peer reviewed, non-university research that attempts to disprove the science showing that climate change is occurring.

Carper wasn’t sure how he would react if Pruitt reversed course on his previous comments and actions—an event not expected to occur at the hearing.

“That might take a stretch of the imagination,” the ranking member said. “There’s an old saying that people don’t believe what we say, they believe what we do.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Rachel Leven in Washington, D.C., at rleven@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Larry Pearl at lpearl@bna.com

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