President-elect Donald Trump's nominee to head the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, is likely to face a Democratic grilling in Congress. Ahead of that battle the American Farm Bureau Federation Wednesday endorsed Pruitt in a letter to leaders of the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.
That committee will be the epicenter of Pruitt's confirmation. The AFBF endorsement comes a little more than one week after a group of six Democratic senators called on Pruitt to disclose his connections to the energy industry, specifically oil and gas interests.
In a letter to EPW Chairman, Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., and committee ranking member Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., http://bit.ly/…, AFBF President Zippy Duvall said Pruitt's understanding about how federal regulations hurt farmers and ranchers is the reason why the group is behind his nomination.
"Scott Pruitt is an ideal nominee for EPA administrator for many reasons, but his nomination should command respect from senators for one reason above all: he has profound respect for the laws written by Congress," Duvall said in the letter.
"In contesting EPA's waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule, Mr. Pruitt is in fact defending the bipartisan view of Congress that the agency has illegally overstepped its bounds and ignored the U.S. Supreme Court. Similarly, in the stance he has taken on the Clean Power Plan, he is defending Congress: in 2009, the Senate failed even to take up for debate the cap-and-trade plan narrowly approved by the House. Mr. Pruitt very soundly takes the view that Congress has not authorized the sweeping attempt by EPA to coerce action by the states.
"No one cares more about the responsible stewardship of our land, air, and water than American farmers and ranchers. Our livelihoods depend on it. In recent years, farmers and ranchers have suffered under burdensome, unnecessary and, too often, unlawful federal regulations promulgated by the EPA. We desperately need an administrator who understands the challenges our farmers and ranchers face in producing safe, wholesome and affordable food for our nation and the world."
Duvall said environmental activists have unfairly characterized the upcoming debate about Pruitt's nomination as being about the future of the environment.
"Nothing could be further from the truth," he said.
"It is about respect for the law and for an agency that will live within the statutory programs Congress has authorized. AFBF supports Scott Pruitt for EPA administrator because he will restore respect for the law and enforce it fairly. Further, he understands how and when federal power should be exercised. We support him because he has demonstrated a keen understanding of the devastating economic implications of federal overreach."
In a letter to Pruitt Dec. 27, Democratic Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse, Edward J. Markey, Jeffrey A. Merkley, Bernie Sanders, Ben Cardin and Cory Booker, http://bit.ly/…, asked the nominee to disclose his ties to oil and gas industry interests.
Though Pruitt's nomination has been viewed favorably for cutting federal regulation that hurts farmers and ranchers, his opposition to the Renewable Fuel Standard has raised concerns in rural America.
"We have been troubled that as attorney general of Oklahoma you used, nearly verbatim, industry talking points in official correspondence your office sent to EPA concerning EPA's estimation of methane pollution in your state," the letter said.
"...Before the Senate votes to confirm you to run EPA, it is important that you provide a full disclosure of your relationship with the energy industry so we can determine how that will influence your ability to run the agency."
Todd Neeley can be reached at email@example.com
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