Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), in a joint statement with the Trump transition team on Thursday, praised Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, Donald Trump’s nominee to head the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
“I believe the Attorney General has the right experience for the position and look forward to his confirmation process,” Manchin said of Pruitt in the statement, which was released shortly after Pruitt met with Manchin at his Senate office on Capitol Hill.
The Senate is scheduled to begin confirmation hearings on Pruitt’s nomination next week, and the Democratic leadership there, in conjunction with several environmental groups, hope to stall the Oklahoman’s confirmation.
Of their meeting, Manchin said, “Attorney General Pruitt and I had a very productive conversation today about his plans for the Environmental Protection Agency and ways we can work together.”
“We both come from energy producing states and have a great deal in common,” the West Virginia Democrat noted.
Manchin, one of the few moderate Democrats left in the Senate, faces a 2018 re-election campaign in West Virginia, where the coal industry has been hard hit by the excessive regulations issued by the Obama administration’s EPA.
Trump won the state handily over Clinton in the November general election, 68 percent to 26 percent, his largest margin of victory in any state.
Pruitt offered his own praise for Manchin in the joint statement.
“Senator Manchin has long been a leader in advancing a balanced energy policy that both protects the environment and enables economic growth,” the Oklahoma Attorney General said.
Despite opposition to his nomination, Pruitt is expected to win confirmation by the full Senate.
“Pruitt is unlikely to need Manchin’s support in order to win confirmation in the Senate, since none of the upper chamber’s 52 Republicans has said they would not vote for him,” the Hill reported on Thursday, adding:
West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, a Republican who may run against Manchin in 2018, publicly pushed him to endorse Pruitt in December. Manchin responded to that call by saying Pruitt has an “impressive resume,” among other compliments.
Pruitt is facing strong opposition from Democrats and environmentalists, who say he doesn’t agree with the EPA’s missions and would be a dangerous administrator.
In his letter to Manchin of “support for Oklahama Attorney General Scott Pruitt as EPA Administrator,” Morrisey said that Pruitt “has a long record that demonstrates a thorough understanding of the proper role of and limits on the EPA.” He continued:
He and I have worked closely together for years on successful challenges to many of EPA’s overreaching rules, including the Clean Power Plan and the Waters of the United States rule. Scott Pruitt’s ascension to the EPA post is good for our state. At the same time, I know Scott Pruitt is as committed to the environment as he is to the rule of law. We can trust Scott Pruitt to rein in the EPA’s excesses and refocus the agency on effectively carrying out its mission to ensure that our air and water are clean.
Morrisey and Pruitt have been two of the leading state attorneys general among the more than two dozen states that have challenged two controversial EPA regulations promulgated in 2015: Waters of the United States (WOTUS) and Coal Fired Power Plant Carbon Dioxide Emission Standards, also known as the Clean Power Plan.
In February, the Supreme Court issued a 5 to 4 decision that stayed enforcement of the coal power plant emissions regulations. Morrisey, who, along with Attorney General Ken Paxton of Texas, was the lead plaintiff, called the decision a “monumental victory for West Virginia, the country, and the rule of law.” The state of Oklahoma, whose interests were represented by Attorney General Pruitt, was among the plaintiffs in the case.
In October, a Federal Appeals Court issued a stay on the enforcement of the Waters of the United States regulation, another victory for Morrisey, Pruitt, and eleven other state attorneys generals who were plaintiffs in the case.
In November, President-elect Trump’s transition team said, “We will eliminate the highly invasive ‘Waters of the US’ rule, and scrap the $5 trillion dollar Obama-Clinton Climate Action Plan and the Clean Power Plan.”