Oklahoma Sierra Club Chapter Discusses Earthquakes, Fracking, Pruitt Nomination
TULSA, Oklahoma - Senate Republicans in Washington, D.C., changed the rules Thursday to move forward with confirmation of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt as the next director of the Environmental Protection Agency.
Senate Democrats didn’t show up again Thursday for Pruitt's confirmation hearing.
The rules required at least two democrats on the committee to cast votes, but Republicans on the panel changed the rule.
Republicans approved Pruitt, 11-0 without a Democrat voting.
Democrats argue Pruitt is unfit to lead the EPA, and they also said he didn’t thoroughly answer questions during the confirmation process.
Pruitt is a controversial choice for most Democratic lawmakers and environmental groups, including the local chapter of the Sierra Club.
Thursday, the Green Country Sierra Club met to talk about fracking and earthquakes in Oklahoma; they said Pruitt was never on their side.
The Sierra Club - the nation's largest environmental group - launched a massive campaign against Pruitt as EPA director.
At a local meeting in Tulsa, Pruitt's hometown, members talked about wastewater injection wells and their relation to Oklahoma’s earthquake swarms.
The state reported more than 600 earthquakes above 3.0 in 2016 and more than 900 the year before.
Some activists believe Pruitt sided with the oil industry over the environment.
"As Attorney General, he could have stepped in. He could have offered opinions, things he did not do," said Kimberly Bartlett, OK Sierra Club conservation chair.
The Sierra Club also pointed out Pruitt is involved in at least 14 lawsuits against the EPA - something Democrats on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee brought up, too.
"So, it's a little confusing why he now is tapped to run the very agency he's railed against for so long," Bartlett said.
Republican senators, including Oklahoma’s James Lankford and Jim Inhofe, praised Pruitt, saying he's qualified for the job.
Pruitt went through a grueling hearing, the committee chair said, and proved himself under pressure.
"This committee has conducted an extremely thorough and fair process of reviewing Attorney General Pruitt's nomination. That includes a hearing of unprecedented length, number of questions, and timely responses from the nominee," said Republican Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming.
The Senate will likely vote on Pruitt's confirmation next week, and will likely approve him.