US Senate approves Trump nominee to environmental post

Washington, Feb 18 (IANS) The US Senate narrowly approved President Donald Trump’s controversial pick Scott Pruitt to head the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Pruitt is a climate-change skeptic who sued the EPA more than a dozen times while serving as attorney general of Oklahoma.

The vote on Friday to confirm Scott Pruitt was 52-46, with Democrats Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota joining the Republican majority to support the nominee, Efe news reported.

One Republican, Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, voted against confirmation.

The GOP majority defeated a Democratic bid to delay the confirmation vote for 10 days to allow time to review the content of thousands of e-mails between Pruitt and companies in the oil, gas, and mining sectors.

A judge in Oklahoma ruled late Thursday that Pruitt must hand over the e-mails by February 21.

The nomination of the 48-year-old Pruitt to run EPA provoked criticism from US environmental organizations, who cite his close ties with industry and his history of seeking to limit the scope of federal regulations protecting air and water.

As Oklahoma attorney general, Pruitt filed suits disputing the EPA’s authority to regulate toxic mercury pollution, smog, carbon emissions from power plants, and water quality.

Pruitt acknowledged during his confirmation hearing that human activity has an impact on climate, while insisting the nature of the impact and what can be done about it remain open to debate.