New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman lashed out at Congress on Friday after the confirmation of Scott Pruitt, President Donald Trump's nominee to lead the Environmental Protection Agency.
Despite objections from Senate Democrats, Pruitt was confirmed by a 52-46 vote. He is expected to be sworn in quickly and Trump is likely to issue executive orders to reshape the EPA, sources said.
Pointing out that Pruitt has repeatedly sued the agency he is now in charge of, Schneiderman called the Oklahoma attorney general's record on environmental protection "shameful."
"Today, Congress confirmed a dangerously unqualified candidate to lead the EPA," Schneiderman said in a statement. "Scott Pruitt has shown a deep and abiding contempt for the agency he will lead and the environmental laws he is now charged with enforcing."
While Republicans have argued that Pruitt will modernize the EPA, Democrats, including Schneiderman, have expressed concern over his efforts to undermine basic environmental protections through more than a dozen lawsuits.
"Many of his lawsuits remain pending with the courts – and, troublingly, Pruitt is refusing to recuse himself from those matters," Schneiderman said in his statement, adding that he would "stand firmly in the way" of any attempt by the Trump administration to gut environmental protections.
Senate Democrats on Friday attempted to extend the debate over Pruitt's confirmation until late February when emails between him and energy companies will likely be revealed by a judge, but the effort failed.
An Oklahoma court ruled this week that Pruitt will have to turn over 3,000 emails between his office and energy companies by Tuesday after a watchdog group, the Center for Media and Democracy, sued for their release.