Pruitt begins Capitol tour amid Democratic opposition

By Niina Heikkinen, E&E News reporter.

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt (R) is making the rounds on Capitol Hill this week in preparation for his upcoming Senate confirmation hearing.

Pruitt met yesterday afternoon with outgoing Senate Environment and Public Works Chairman Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) and incoming Chairman John Barrasso (R-Wyo.).

The nominee and senators did not answer reporters' questions about the content of their discussion or give a date for the start of Pruitt's confirmation hearings.

"We had a good conversation, we did," said Inhofe.

In a statement, Barrasso said he enjoyed meeting with Pruitt.

"We had a good conversation focused on policy and reforms that are necessary at the agency. He has excellent insights on how to help the EPA better meet its mission of protecting the environment while growing the American economy," he said.

While a number of Republicans, including Inhofe, have embraced Pruitt's nomination, Senate Democrats are voicing concerns about how much the fossil fuel industry could influence the potential future head of U.S. EPA (Climatewire, Dec. 22, 2016).

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), along with Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Edward Markey (D-Mass.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Ben Cardin (D-Md.), sent a letter to Pruitt on Dec. 27, requesting more details about his connections with the oil and gas industry.