U.S. EPA employees protest Trump's pick
to run agency
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[February 07, 2017]
By Valerie Volcovici
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Former and current
employees of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency expressed
opposition to President Donald Trump's pick to run the agency on Monday
- in an open letter and a small street protest - reflecting divisions
over the new administration's plans to slash regulation.
Over 400 former EPA staff members sent a letter to the U.S. Senate
asking it to reject the nomination of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott
Pruitt as the agency's new leader, saying "he has shown no interest in
enforcing environmental laws."
In Chicago, around 30 employees of the EPA's regional office there
joined a protest organized by the Sierra Club environmental group and
the American Federation of Government Employees to protest Pruitt's
Doug Eriksen, a spokesman for Trump's transition team at the EPA,
downplayed the Chicago protest, saying "employees have a right to take
action on their private time."
Trump has vowed to cut regulation to revive the oil, gas and coal
industries, and has said he can do so without compromising air and water
quality. He nominated Pruitt, who has sued the EPA more than a dozen
times as Oklahoma's top prosecutor to block its regulations, to run the
agency, sparking alarm among Democrats and environmentalists.
Last Thursday, the Senate environment committee approved Pruitt despite
a boycott of his nomination by the panel's Democratic members. He is
expected to be confirmed by the full Senate, in Republican control after
last November's election, but a date for the vote has not been set.
The former EPA employees who sent the letter to the Senate wrote that
they believed Pruitt has a history of siding with industry and has been
reluctant to accept "the strong scientific consensus on climate change."
[to top of second column]
General Scott Pruitt testifies before a Senate Environment and
Public Works Committee confirmation hearing on his nomination to be
administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency in Washington,
U.S., January 18, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts/File Photo
Employees at the Chicago rally raised concerns that Pruitt may cut
employees and resources needed for the agency to enforce
"The EPA needs to be able to enforce the rules when companies are
breaking the law," said Sherry Estes, an EPA lawyer who participated
in the protest.
(Additional reporting by Robert Chiarito in Chicago; Editing by Dan
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