February 16, 2017
In an unusual show of opposition for federal employees, Environmental Protection Agency workers have been calling their senators to urge them to reject President Trump’s pick to lead their agency, The New York Times reported Thursday.
Scott Pruitt, the attorney general of Oklahoma, has sued the EPA more than a dozen times in his current post, alarming many of the agency’s employees, who fear that, if confirmed, he will work to dismantle its work.
On the campaign trail, Trump railed against the environmental agency, calling it a “disgrace” and vowing to undo federal environmental rules and regulations.
“Mr. Pruitt’s background speaks for itself, and it comes on top of what the president wants to do to EPA,” John O’Grady, a longtime EPA employee and president of the union representing its workers, told The Times.
Still, the effort to rally the opposition of enough senators to reject Pruitt during his confirmation vote on Friday is a longshot. Only one GOP senator, Susan Collins (Maine), has said she will vote against Trump’s EPA pick. And Democrat Sens. Joe Manchin (W.V.) and Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.) have both said they will support Pruitt.
Even with the expected absence of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who is set to attend a security conference in Germany on Friday, Pruitt will likely win the support of 52 senators, securing confirmation.
It is unusual for civil servants, such as EPA employees, to so actively oppose a Cabinet appointee. What is more, The Times reports, the move signifies that Pruitt will likely face strong pushback from his own employees once he takes office.
“What it means is that it’s going to be a blood bath when Pruitt gets in there,” former New Jersey Gov. and past EPA administrator Christine Todd Whitman (R) told The Times.