Oklahoma AG Scott Pruitt Endures Nearly 7-Hour Confirmation Hearing
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt’s confirmation hearing for Director of the Environmental Protection Agency lasted nearly seven hours Wednesday.
Pruitt made headlines when he testified that he disagrees with president-elect Donald Trump and believes climate change is real.
Pruitt's confirmation hearing included some hometown support. Oklahoma Senators Jim Inhofe - who's on the environment committee - and James Lankford testified in favor of his confirmation.
"Oklahoma is an energy and agriculture state, but we're also a state that knows how to protect the environment while balancing competing interests," Inhofe said.
Lankford said, "Scott's a friend. I've prayed with Scott. I've seen Scott struggle with hard decisions that affect our state's future. I've seen Scott listen to people to try to learn all sides of an issue."
Pruitt was elected Oklahoma Attorney General in 2010.
Several Democrats voiced concerns that Pruitt may be more a champion for Oklahoma's oil-and-gas industry than for the environment.
They brought up Pruitt's involvement in the 14 lawsuits against the very agency he may soon lead, the EPA.
But Pruitt vowed to protect the environment if confirmed.
"What could be more important than protecting our nation's waters, improving our air, and managing the land we've been blessed with as a nation, all the while protecting the health and welfare of our people," Pruitt said.
Vermont Senator and former presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders challenged that promise, confronting Pruitt on climate change.
Sanders: "I'm asking your personal opinion."
Pruitt: "My personal opinion is immaterial."
Pruitt: "To the job of..."
Sanders: "You are going to the head of the agency to protect the environment, and your personal feelings about whether climate change is caused by human activity and carbon emissions is immaterial?"
The committee has more Republicans and is expected to vote in favor of Pruitt. The vote will then go to the Senate floor.