Manchin, Capito vote for new EPA chief

PARKERSBURG — West Virginia’s two U.S. senators Friday voted to confirm the nominee for administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.

Scott Pruitt was confirmed on a 52-46 vote that fell on partisan lines.

Only one Republican, Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, voted against him. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Sen. Heidi Heitkmap, D-N.D., were the only Democrats who voted in favor of the nomination from President Donald Trump.

“Every West Virginian wants clean air and clean water and I intend to be vigilant in working with Administrator Pruitt to ensure that our fundamental environmental protections are implemented in a sound and effective way,” Manchin said. “I believe that the economy and the environment can be balanced and work in harmony. Pruitt knows that I believe it is important that the EPA is working with states like West Virginia, not against us.”

Pruitt, a Republican, is the state attorney general in Oklahoma. He will become the 14th administrator of the federal agency.

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., said Pruitt “is the most thoroughly vetted nominee for administrator in the history of the EPA.

“He embodies the leadership we need to restore accountability to the agency,” Capito said. “He will return the EPA to its core mission of protecting public and environmental health while balancing economic impact. While I am disappointed by the Democrat obstruction that delayed today’s vote, I am very glad the Senate has confirmed attorney General Pruitt. I know he will be an excellent partner to West Virginia as the next administrator of the EPA.”

The confirmation was voted upon after a motion to extend debate was rejected 51-47. Democrats attempted to delay the process.

Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, a Republican, voted in favor and Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, voted against.

Earlier this week, Manchin, Capito and Reps. David McKinley and Evan Jenkins of West Virginia and Bill Johnson of Ohio attended a signing ceremony by Trump where he signed the resolution passed under the Congressional Review Act to block the stream protection rule finalized in December, one of the last acts by President Barack Obama. Opponents said the rule would cost tens of thousands of jobs in the coal industry.

“Scott Pruitt is the leader America needs at the EPA,” McKinley, chairman of the Congressional Coal Caucus, said. “He understands that we can protect our environment with common sense policies that don’t attack job creators and send thousands of workers, like West Virginia’s coal miners, to the unemployment line.”

Pruitt as the attorney general in Oklahoma has sued the EPA and said he curtailed the agency’s regulatory reach.

“I sincerely believe West Virginia will have a friend in Scott Pruitt,” said Attorney General Pat Morrisey of West Virginia, who has also challenged the EPA in court. “Scott’s principled approach will respect the law and reinforce the EPA’s core mission to protect our air and water without unconstitutional and job killing overreach, which has brought tremendous harm to West Virginia during the past eight years.”

By:  Jess Mancini
Source: Parkersburg News & Sentinel