Collins to vote against Trump’s EPA pick

Collins to vote against Trump’s EPA pick
© Greg Nash

Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsPelosi: 'No intention' of abandoning Democrats' infrastructure goals Collins says infrastructure bill won't have gas tax increase or undo 2017 tax reform bill What the Democrats should be doing to reach true bipartisanship MORE (R-Maine) will vote against confirming President Trump’s nominee to lead the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Collins is the only Senate Republican to come out against Scott Pruitt, the Oklahoma attorney general who sued the EPA 14 times during former President Obama’s administration. 

“I have significant concerns that Mr. Pruitt has actively opposed and sued the EPA on numerous issues that are of great importance to the state of Maine, including mercury controls for coal-fired power plants and efforts to reduce cross-state air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions,” Collins said in a Wednesday statement first reported by Maine Public Radio.


“His actions leave me with considerable doubts about whether his vision for the EPA is consistent with the agency’s critical mission to protect human health and the environment.” 

Senators could vote on confirming Pruitt as early as Friday and despite Collins’s defection, Pruitt is still likely to be confirmed. The GOP's other 51 senators are likely to vote for him, and Sen. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinPelosi: 'No intention' of abandoning Democrats' infrastructure goals Ocasio-Cortez: 'Old way of politics' influences Manchin's thinking The Memo: Democratic tensions will only get worse as left loses patience MORE (D-W.Va.) said he has “the right experience for the position.”

The rest of the Democratic caucus is likely to vote against Pruitt, who needs a simple majority of 51 votes to be confirmed. 

Pruitt’s litigious history with the agency he wants to lead has been central to the campaign by Democrats and environmentalists against him.

He has sued to stop regulations controlling mercury pollution from power plants, carbon dioxide from power plants, a cleanup program for the Chesapeake Bay, ground-level ozone pollution, Obama’s rule asserting federal power over small waterways and more.

Pruitt and Republicans have defended the lawsuits as necessary to stop overreach by Obama’s EPA. Among the cases that have made it to a final court decision, Pruitt has been victorious just once.

Collins is one of the most centrist Republicans in the Senate, having broken with her party numerous times to support environmental regulations and legislation.

The Sierra Club applauded Collins Wednesday.

“Today, Senator Collins took a stand for families across Maine by opposing this dangerous nomination that would be a threat to our clean air, clean water, and public health,” Glen Brand, director of the group’s Maine chapter, said in a statement.

Collins's announcement came on the heels of a major blow for Trump's Cabinet slate, after Andy Puzder withdrew from consideration as Labor secretary one day before his confirmation hearing. She had expressed skepticism about his nomination, and also voted against final confirmation for Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.