Dems Call For Vote Delay After Court Orders Release Of EPA Nom’s Emails

UNITED STATES - JANUARY 18: Scott Pruitt, President Trump's nominee to be administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, testifies during his Senate Environment and Public Works Committee confirmation hearing in Dirksen Building, January 18, 2017. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)  (CQ Roll Call via AP Images)
Tom Williams/CQPHO

Senate Democrats on Thursday evening urged Republicans to delay the confirmation vote for Environmental Protection Agency nominee Scott Pruitt after a court ruled that emails between the Oklahoma attorney general and the fossil fuel industry must be released.

An Oklahoma judge on Thursday ordered the state attorney general’s office to release more than 2,500 emails between Pruitt and members of the fossil fuel industry, like Koch Industries and the National Coal Council, by Tuesday. The ruling came in a case brought by the Center for Media and Democracy in January, in which the group said Pruitt failed to fulfill open records requests.

Pruitt’s confirmation vote is scheduled to take place on Friday, but the ruling has prompted Democrats to call for a delay.

“This information ought to be evaluated before Republicans jam his nomination through to lead the EPA. The Majority Leader should delay the vote to confirm Mr. Pruitt until the Senate has had time to review the documents the Oklahoma judge has ordered to be released. This is basic due diligence and fairness,” Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) said in a statement.

Sen. Jeff Merkely (D-OR) said that the release of the emails “is essential to fair consideration of Pruitt’s nomination.”

“But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is forcing the Senate to vote tomorrow on Pruitt even though his emails won’t be released until Tuesday. This is an egregious cover up that must not stand,” he added in a statement.

Democrats have opposed Pruitt’s nomination, protesting his views on climate change. The Oklahoma attorney has written that the science behind global warming is “far from settled” and has ties to the fossil fuel industry.

EPA staffers have also been calling their senators, urging them to oppose Pruitt, the New York Times reported.

However, it’s not clear that Senate Republicans would agree to postpone the vote, and it appears Pruitt has enough votes to be confirmed. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) has said she will vote against Pruitt and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) will skip the vote to attend a conference in Germany, but that still leaves Republicans with enough votes to confirm Pruitt.