Schatz said lawmakers would hold Pruitt accountable through the appropriations process and oversight of the EPA, and by making sure he follows the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act.
Pruitt previously served as Oklahoma attorney general, where he rose to prominence as a leader in coordinated efforts by Republican attorneys general to challenge President Barack Obama’s regulatory agenda. He sued or took part in legal actions against the EPA 14 times.
Democrats and environmentalists opposed Pruitt’s nomination to lead the EPA due to his close relationship with fossil fuel companies and his history of casting doubt on climate change. Conservatives and the energy industry have cheered his efforts to push back on what they view as over-regulation under Obama.
Pruitt maintained on Thursday it’s possible to be pro-growth, pro-jobs and pro-environment all at once.
“This idea that if you’re pro-environment you’re anti-energy is just something we’ve got to change so that attitude is something we’re working on very much,” he said.
Asked whether he would seek to roll back the EPA’s 2009 determination that carbon dioxide and five other greenhouse gases are a danger to public health, Pruitt suggested he would like to see Congress take up the issue.
“I think all those things need to be addressed as we go forward but not least of which is the response by the legislative branch with respect to the issue,” he said.
The Supreme Court ruled in 2007 that the EPA has the authority to regulate heat-trapping gases from automobiles. In 2014, it determined the agency could also regulate some sources of greenhouse gases, such as power plants.
Pruitt also called the Paris Agreement, an international accord aimed at mitigating the impacts of climate change, “a bad deal.” He said it puts the United States on a different playing field than developing countries like China and India.