Carper: Pruitt confirmation could negatively impact state

Date Published: 
February 10, 2017

Coastal Point • Maria Counts: U.S. Sen. Tom Carper pauses by Williams Pond during his recent visit to a textile plant in Seaford last week.Coastal Point • Maria Counts: U.S. Sen. Tom Carper pauses by Williams Pond during his recent visit to a textile plant in Seaford last week.Last week, U.S. Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) paid a visit to Seaford to tour the Invista textile plant and shine a light on his concerns related to the nomination of Scott Pruitt to serve as Secretary of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

In December, President Donald Trump nominated Pruitt, Oklahoma’s attorney-general, to serve as EPA administrator — a nomination that Carper, who serves as ranking member on the Senate Environment & Public Works Committee, opposes. The EPA was reated in 1970 through a proposal by then-President Richard Nixon, with the mission to protect human health and the environment.

Last month, Carper and his colleagues on the committee sent Trump a letter voicing their concerns regarding Pruitt’s nomination. Carper joked in Seaford that he has sent numerous letters to Trump, as part of his effort to save the United States Postal Service.

While standing next to Williams Pond in Seaford on Feb. 3, Carper said that, if Pruitt were confirmed, it could impact Delaware greatly.

“When Donald Trump was running for president, one of the things he promised was to get rid of the EPA and, if he couldn’t get rid of it, to diminish its role and abilities,” said Carper. “One of his people was talking about reducing their headcount by two-thirds.”

Carper said it has been difficult to tell when the president is being serious or telling the truth, but that he made a statement with his nomination.

“When [Pruitt] arrived [in the Oklahoma Attorney General’s Office] eight years ago, there was an Environmental Protection Unit in the AG’s Office. There’s not one there anymore. The funding has gone away.”

Carper noted that Pruitt has spent millions of dollars suing the EPA numerous times over states’ rights, seeking to block former President Barack Obama’s climate-change plan and its protections against airborne mercury, among other topics.

On Jan. 18, in an opening statement during a hearing on Pruitt’s nomination, Carper said that Delaware is located at the end of “America’s tailpipe,” and it is through the work of the EPA and the State that Delawareans are able to breathe cleaner air.

“Ninety percent of the air pollution in Delaware comes from outside the First State — from power plants hundreds of miles away, in places like Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana and across the Midwest. As governor of Delaware, even if I had eliminated every source of air pollution within our state by stopping every combustion source and ordering every motor vehicle off of our roads, Delawareans still would have faced deadly doses of air pollution.

“Should children and others in Delaware really be forced to live with the consequences of decisions made by polluters hundreds — or even thousands — of miles from us? I don’t think so. Fortunately, the EPA has recently implemented something called the Good Neighbor rule to make sure that all states do their fair share to clean up the air. Every citizen in this country has a right to breathe clean air, regardless of whether they live in a downwind or upwind state. That is why we have the EPA.”

While in Seaford, Carper continued to voice his concerns, noting that the continued denial of climate change could impact Delaware, as it is the lowest-lying state in the country.

“In the state of Delaware, we have a special stake in this. We see — literally every day, along our coast — the messages of what happens when the temperature of our planet continues to rise and the water continues to rise and encroaches on our land,” he said, noting that, if not addressed, climate change could lead to NASCAR racing turning to sailboat regattas at Dover Downs. “It’s a real threat to our way of life, our ability to live.”

He added that a number of small towns have used the State’s revolving loan fund, which is seeded by the EPA, for wastewater and drinking water improvements. In 2012, the Town of Selbyville received $1.4 million of water funding to build two new wells, following studies that showed the levels of methyl tert-butyl ether in its existing wells were above the permitted limits.

The EPA’s Beaches Environmental Assessment & Coastal Health Act (BEACH) Act has funded the monitoring and testing of local waters. Carper said the list of the agency’s positive impacts on the state goes on, and that he would continue to work to support the programs and agencies that benefit Delawareans and Americans.

To read more of Carper’s statements related to the Pruitt nomination, visit www.carper.senate.gov.