Merkley Statement on Pruitt Nomination

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley released the following statement after he joined Democrats on the Environment and Public Works Committee to boycott a vote on Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) nominee Scott Pruitt until Pruitt fully answers the committee’s questions:

“EPA nominee Scott Pruitt failed to answer important questions about his ties to industry. That is why today I am joining Senator Tom Carper and my fellow Democrats on the Environment and Public Works Committee to boycott the committee’s consideration of Pruitt’s nomination until he answers these questions.

“We want to know: what was Pruitt talking about with companies like Devon Energy while serving as Oklahoma Attorney General? When I asked him in the hearing why he copied and pasted Devon Energy’s words verbatim onto official letterhead for the State of Oklahoma, he evaded my questions. Throughout, he consistently repeated ‘such communications can be requested from the Oklahoma Office of the Attorney General,’ though he knows his office of the Oklahoma Attorney General has a track record of sitting on such information requests for years. What is Scott Pruitt trying to hide?

“We also have significant questions about how he will deal with the many conflicts of interest that will come up. He has spent most of his time as Attorney General suing the agency he is now on the verge of leading. Will he permanently recuse himself from anything having to do with those lawsuits?

“If he cannot answer the multitude of questions we’ve asked about his record and views, neither we nor the American people can have confidence that Pruitt is working to keep air and water clean, rather than protecting the profits of polluters.

“Until Scott Pruitt answers these important questions; until he clarifies his positions and tells us how he is going to resolve the many conflicts of interest his nomination poses, it would be irresponsible for the committee to vote on his nomination. Committee Republicans should stand up to Trump and insist on the time to finish the job, but if they don’t, Democrats on the committee won’t be complicit. The American people demand and deserve accountability and transparency in their government. That means a thorough vetting of Pruitt.”