Pruitt confirmed as EPA head, Franken and Klobuchar voted against him

Minnesota's senators, Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar, were among those to vote against Pruitt's confirmation.
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Scott Pruitt is the new head of the Environmental Protection Agency, after he was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on Friday.

Crossing the aisle was North Dakota Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, who was among those who backed Pruitt in a vote that ended 52-46.

Minnesota's senators, Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar, were among those to vote against him amid concerns among Democrats and eco groups about his attitude towards environmental protection.

"We need a leader at the EPA who understands that the science of climate change is real and who knows the importance of the Renewable Fuel Standard for our economy," Klobuchar wrote on Facebook Thursday.

Other opposition in Minnesota came from St. Paul-based Bang Brewing, which joined many other breweries nationwide in expressing concerns that removing water regulations could impact its cleanliness.

Sen. Franken spoke out against his confirmation, arguing in favor of strong environmental regulations that rather than stifling economic growth, help boost innovation and spurs investment.

More about Scott Pruitt

Scott Pruitt was the Oklahoma Attorney General and one of the reasons there has been concerns raised about him becoming the head of the EPA is because of his record there.

He has taken a strong stance against EPA regulations during his time there – his bio on the Oklahoma AG website even describes him as a "leading advocate against the EPA's activist agenda." During his time in Oklahoma he sued the EPA 14 times, USA Today notes.

He is a noted climate change skeptic, previously writing that scientists "continue to disagree about the degree and extent of global warming and its connection to the actions of mankind" and that further debate should be encouraged.

Arguments against Pruitt

Those opposing Pruitt's confirmation cited his record as Oklahoma AG as a sign that he will slash regulations that he sees as restricting industries, which could have implications for the environment.

NPR reports he is expected to slow or reverse much of the new environmental rules "aggressively drafted and enforced" by the EPA during the Obama administration, that put new standards on vehicle emissions, water quality and pollution at power plants.

Pruitt has also been criticized for his links to the fossil fuel industry, with the Koch Brothers among those who have previously donated to his campaigns, the New Yorker reports.

The New York Times reports that a complaint letter he sent to the EPA about air pollution regulations in Oklahoma was actually drafted by lawyers for one of the state's biggest oil and gas companies.

Arguments for Pruitt

Those in favor of his confirmation back his record of wanting less federal regulation, with NPR noting that he has previously spoken in favor of giving states more power to impose their own environmental rules.

Conservative and libertarian think-tank The Heartland Institute is among the groups supporting him, saying the EPA has become "a wholly-owned subsidiary of anti-capitalist environmental zealots" and appointing Pruitt would put an end to "unnecessary and unwarranted regulation."

Writing for Fox News, Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge said that, like most conservatives, Pruitt wants regulatory agencies run with "common sense and not a political agenda.

He notes Pruitt has previously said there "is a proper role" for the EPA in ensuring clean water and air quality, but that is not to adopt "unnecessary and arbitrary rules that do incredibly little to aid the environment while doing a lot to harm the economy."

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