Tester, Daines take opposite sides in confirmation of EPA leader

Sens. Jon Tester (D) and Steve Daines (R)

By Martin Kidston/Missoula Current

Montana Sens. Jon Tester and Steve Daines on Friday took opposing actions on the confirmation of Scott Pruitt to head the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, with Tester opposing the appointment and Daines standing in support.

Both Montana senators delivered a speech on the U.S. Senate floor detailing their positions on President Donald Trump’s controversial nominee.

The Senate confirmed Pruitt on Friday on a 52-46 vote, with one Republican crossing party lines to oppose the appointment.

“Mr. Pruitt has consistently sided with big polluters over local businesses and local families,” said Tester, a Democrat. “I’m not convinced that Mr. Pruitt understands the critical role that clean air and clean water play in our agriculture and outdoor economies.”

In meeting with Pruitt, Tester said he received no assurances that he would serve as a champion for Montana farmers and ranchers, nor would he defend the state’s outdoor heritage.

Tester said families impacted by big polluters in the past, including those in Butte, Libby and Columbia Falls, are counting on the EPA to uphold its commitment to clean up contamination left by multi-national corporations.

“Mr. Pruitt has endorsed policies that will put Montana jobs at-risk, and put our outdoor heritage on the ropes,” Tester said. “Libby doesn’t want or need another person that looks the other way while big business preys on hard-working people.”

But Daines, a Republican, supported Pruitt’s confirmation and invited the new EPA administrator to Montana.

Daines encouraged Pruitt to “witness the face of unreasonable, unattainable EPA regulations” in Colstrip.

“Administrator Pruitt will immediately halt the war on coal and destroy excessive regulations from being imposed on Montana,” Daines stated. “I know Scott Pruitt will use sound science in his decisions as EPA Administrator.”

You can hear Tester and Daines’ floor speeches here.

Contact reporter Martin Kidston at info@missoulacurrent.com