Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt insisted his job was not to “put up fences” to prohibit industries from exploiting natural resources, and he refused to be pinned down on the agency’s future direction on clean air and climate change at a Senate hearing on Tuesday.
Appearing before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, Pruitt also deflected his critics’ attempts to embarrass him, including over a 2016 radio interview in which he mused that then-candidate Donald Trump was a “bully” who would be “more abusive to the Constitution than Barack Obama.”
Pruitt said he didn’t recall the radio interview, which was recorded. It was conducted in February 2016, when he was Oklahoma’s attorney general and Trump was an early dark horse in the GOP primary fight.
And on issues of current policy debate, Pruitt offered no definitive answers or timelines, including on whether he would maintain EPA’s landmark endangerment finding on greenhouse gases, allow California to keep tough vehicle emissions standards, or stage a “red team, blue team” exercise on climate science.
At this first oversight hearing in the Senate since his confirmation, Pruitt defended with aplomb his efforts to ease the burden on industry.