Senator Stabenow Votes Against Confirming Scott Pruitt as EPA Administrator

Friday, February 17, 2017

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) voted against confirming Scott Pruitt to be the next Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.  She delivered the remarks against his nomination on the Senate Floor.  Video of her speech may be found here and her remarks, as prepared for delivery, follow:

M. President

I rise to join my colleagues in opposing Scott Pruitt to be the next Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.

The EPA Administrator is a position of great importance to the people of Michigan, the Great Lakes region, and the entire country.  After examining Mr. Pruitt’s record on a broad range of issues, as well as his views about the agency for which he has been nominated to lead, I have significant concerns about the direction and priorities the EPA would take if he becomes Administrator.


My concerns about Scott Pruitt are not based on partisan politics.  When George W. Bush was President, I joined with 98 of my colleagues to vote to confirm Christy Todd Whitman to be EPA Administrator.  Two years later, I was among 87 other members in the Senate to vote to confirm Michael Leavitt to succeed her at the EPA. But I do not believe that Scott Pruitt has the requisite experience and track record to successfully lead an agency that plays such a critical role in protecting the health and wellbeing of the people of Michigan. 


My state is all too familiar with the importance of clean water and the consequences of environmental mismanagement.  While there is no question that the EPA should have acted more quickly to respond to the crisis in Flint, make no mistake that this man made emergency was primarily the function of decisions made by our Governor’s administration.  An administration that decided it would rather save $100 a day than pay for the treatment needed to prevent water pipes from corroding and exposing families and children in Flint to lead tainted water.


Mr. Pruitt has made clear of his intention to defer as much as possible to state authorities on decisions about protecting the environment.  While I firmly believe an effective EPA is one that works closely and often in concert with state and local communities, we must also be sure that we have leadership at the EPA that is willing and capable of providing the oversight necessary to ensure environmental and public health standards.


We also need an EPA Administrator that we can trust to protect and preserve the Great Lakes.  Critical to this objective is a grant program administered by the EPA called the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.   The GLRI, which I championed and helped launch in 2010, accelerates efforts to protect and restore the Great Lakes by providing grants to clean up contaminated areas, prevent and control invasive species, address harmful algal blooms, and restore habitat to protect native species.


Scott Pruitt’s long record of opposing nearly all federal environmental programs raises serious questions about his commitment to the GLRI program -- a program that has garnered bipartisan and bicameral support in the Congress.


People come to the Great Lakes from all over the country. They are a part of our DNA and our way of life in Michigan. They contain 20% of the world’s fresh water and support more than 1.5 million jobs.  We need leadership at the EPA that we can count on to protect the Great Lakes, and the nearly $62 billion in wages that are tied directly to jobs and industries that depend on these precious waters to operate.


I also have great concerns about Mr. Pruitt’s long running opposition to the landmark Renewable Fuel Standard, which makes him an odd choice to lead the agency that administers the program. The President promised us a farmer friendly EPA – and yet his nominee to lead the agency wants to dismantle one of the most successful economic drivers in rural America.  Mr. Pruitt has repeatedly spoken out against the RFS, calling the program “flawed” and “unworkable.” 


Mr. Pruitt heading up EPA, coupled with former Exxon executive Rex Tillerson at the State Department and oil refinery owner Carl Icahn advising the White House, may well mean the end of the RFS as we know it.  That’s bad news for our biofuel producers in Michigan, and bad news for any American who cares about creating economic growth and jobs in rural communities.


Mr. Pruitt’s record of siding with polluters over sound science puts him outside the mainstream of what we should expect from our EPA Administrator.  It is for these reasons that I intend to vote against his nomination and would urge my colleagues to do the same.