Scott Pruitt was sworn into office late Friday as the 14th administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito administered the oath of office to Pruitt, the former attorney general of Oklahoma, in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building adjacent to the White House. President Trump and Vice President Pence, who have sworn in most of the previous Cabinet officials, are both out of town.
The swearing-in ceremony came hours after the Senate voted 52-46, mostly along party lines, to confirm Pruitt, capping off a frequently contentious nomination process.
Pruitt now leads the agency that he sued more than a dozen times, often in concert with industry, during former President Barack Obama‘s tenure. Pruitt had pushed to stop regulations that the former Oklahoma attorney general and his allies saw as overreach by the federal government.
The agency has 15,000 employees around the country and is responsible for enforcing laws on air, water and ground pollution, as well as numerous others.
To Republicans, Pruitt represented in a nominee exactly what the EPA needs: A leader who will roll back Obama’s aggressive environmental agenda and give states more power to enforce environmental laws.
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Democrats said that Pruitt’s litigious history with the EPA shows that he does not support its mission. They also pushed to delay his vote pending the release of emails between he and his staff at the attorney general’s office and industry.
In the Senate, Pruitt garnered the support of nearly all of the Republican senators who voted, as well as Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin (W.Va.) and Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.), both of whom are running for reelection next year in states carried by Trump.
Sources say that Trump is planning to visit the EPA soon and sign a number of executive orders concerning regulations and other priorities he would like to get started with at the agency. Inside EPA first reported on the orders earlier this week.
Pruitt is planning to address EPA employees at the agency’s headquarters Tuesday.
This article was originally published by The Hill in February, 2017.
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