Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt is facing a tough grilling from Senate Democrats today at his nomination hearing for the top job at the Environmental Protection Agency -- an agency he has sued on behalf of his state over dozen times. President-elect Donald Trump's decision to pick Pruitt to run the agency has been hailed by conservatives, who have long complained the Obama EPA has vastly overreached with its air and water regulations, implementing rules they say only Congress has the authority to make. Pruitt, who also has strong backing from Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), has been targeted by greens for his ties to the oil and gas industry, which has been a major contributor PACs backing him, as well as his role leading a group of Republican attorneys general with close ties to fossil-fuel companies Here are highlights of the hearing in the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee: Barrasso: EPA's failed leadershipSenate Environment and Public Works Chairman John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) opened the hearing by criticizing the agency's “failed environmental leadership” under President Barack Obama that he argues contributed to two environmental disasters — the Flint, Mich., lead-contamination water crisis and the Gold King mine spill in Colorado.“Those disasters hurt people, many from low income and minority communities who can least afford it,” Barrasso said. “Clearly a change is needed,” he added. “Any new administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency needs to protect the environment in a responsible way that doesn’t ignore the good work that states do to protect their air, land and water, as well as their economies.”Pruitt promises to curb EPA rolePruitt addressed conservatives complaints about EPA, promising lawmakers that under his leadership, the agency would stop “picking winners and losers,” according to prepared remarks.He also accused the agency of overstepping its power, saying it had "bootstrapped its own powers and tools through rulemaking" that had triggered protracted litigation and that he would rely on the states rather than federal officials to be "our nation’s frontline environmental implementers and enforcers." Farmers, ranchers and small business owners have felt "hopeless, subject to a never ending torrent of new regulations that only a lawyer can understand,” Pruitt's said. “They fear the EPA, and that just shouldn’t be the case. If confirmed, I will work tirelessly to ensure that the EPA acts lawfully, sensibly, and with those hardworking Americans ever in mind.”Carper: Pruitt views are troublingSen. Tom Carper, the top Democrat on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, indicated he is leaning against approving Pruitt, marking the second time the Delawarean has opposed an EPA administrator.“Too much of what I’ve seen of his record on the environment and his views about the role of the EPA are troubling and in some cases deeply troubling,” Carper said. In 2005, Carper voted against George W. Bush’s third EPA administrator, Stephen Johnson, though Carper said at the time he opposed Johnson because of the Bush administration was allegedly blocking studies of power plant pollution, according to the New York Times.
Southern Power, a subsidiary of electric utility holding firm Southern Company (SO), reported that it has entered into a joint growth agreement with Renewable Energy Systems Americas Inc.