(Adds Democrats seeking delay to vote on Pruitt, paragraphs
WASHINGTON Feb 15 Republican U.S. Senator Susan
Collins of Maine said on Wednesday she would oppose Oklahoma
Attorney General Scott Pruitt's nomination to head the
Environmental Protection Agency, citing his numerous lawsuits
against the agency.
Pruitt is scheduled to face a Senate confirmation vote on
Friday. Unless more Republicans join Collins in opposing Pruitt,
his nomination is likely to be approved. Republicans hold 52 of
the 100 seats in the chamber and Vice President Mike Pence could
cast the deciding vote in case of a tie.
"Due to my concerns about Mr. Pruitt's commitment to the
mission of the EPA, I will cast my vote in opposition to his
confirmation," Collins said in a statement.
President Donald Trump has vowed to cut regulation to revive
the oil, gas and coal industries, and has said he can do so
without compromising air and water quality.
The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee approved
Pruitt's nomination two weeks ago after Democrats boycotted the
vote over concerns about Pruitt's environmental record.
As Oklahoma attorney general, Pruitt sued the EPA more than
a dozen times on behalf of the oil-drilling state and he has
cast doubts on the science of climate change.
"His actions leave me with considerable doubts about whether
his vision for the EPA is consistent with the agency's critical
mission to protect human health and the environment," Collins
She said Pruitt had sued the EPA on issues of importance to
Maine, including mercury controls for coal-fired power plants
and efforts to reduce cross-state air pollution and greenhouse
Senator Tom Carper, the top Democrat on the energy
committee, and several other Democrats have asked Senate Leader
Mitch McConnell to delay a procedural vote on Pruitt scheduled
They want the vote delayed until after the conclusion of an
emergency hearing in Oklahoma to be held at 4 p.m. ET (2100 GMT)
that will consider whether emails between Pruitt's office and
officials at oil and gas companies should be released.
Access to those records was requested by the Center for
Media and Democracy, a watchdog group, more than two years ago.
Conservative group FreedomWorks blasted Collins, who also
voted against the nomination last week of Education Secretary
Betsy DeVos. Pence's vote was needed to break a tie before DeVos
FreedomWorks Chief Executive Adam Brandon said in a
statement it was "a shame" that Collins was again aligning
herself with "far-left Democrats and special interests."
(Reporting by Eric Beech and Timothy Gardner; Editing by Eric
Walsh, Peter Cooney and Paul Tait)