News

Jones slams confirmation of Pruitt, says Colorado must go own way on environment

Author: Ernest Luning - February 17, 2017 - Updated: February 17, 2017

Jones-Pruitt.jpg
State Sen. Matt Jones, D-Louisville, the Senate's deputy minority leader for conservation, clean energy, and climate change, and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt (Jones photo by Dave Schemel via Wikimedia, Pruitt photo courtesy Oklahoma attorney general's office)
State Sen. Matt Jones, D-Louisville, the Senate’s deputy minority leader for conservation, clean energy, and climate change, and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt (Jones photo by Dave Schemel via Wikimedia, Pruitt photo courtesy Oklahoma attorney general’s office)

Calling former Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt “the wrong choice for EPA administrator,” a Democratic state senator said Friday that Colorado will have to chart its own environmental course and reject the direction it looks like Washington is taking.

“Scott Pruitt’s history of climate change denial, opposing environmental protection and his uncomfortably close ties with the fossil fuel industry are just a few reasons why he could take the EPA in a direction that could be very damaging to Colorado,” said state Sen. Matt Jones, D-Louisville.

Jones was named deputy minority leader for conservation, clean energy and climate change late last year by Senate Minority Leader Lucia Guzman, D-Denver. The newly created position is dedicated to keeping Colorado at the forefront of protecting the environment and promoting renewable energy, Senate Democrats said.

The U.S. Senate voted 52-46 earlier Friday to confirm Pruitt, mostly along party lines. Maine Sen. Susan Collins was the lone Republican to vote against his confirmation, while North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp and West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin were the only Democrats to break ranks.

Pruitt faced intense opposition from EPA employees and Senate Democrats, who sought a delay on the vote until next week, after the anticipated court-ordered release of thousands of documents from his tenure as attorney general. He was sworn in as the 14th administrator of the agency Friday evening.

Jones said he was “especially disappointed” that Colorado’s Republican senator, Cory Gardner, voted to confirm Pruitt, who regularly sued the EPA to block regulations when he was attorney general. (Gardner’s Democratic colleague, Michael Bennet, voted against Pruitt’s confirmation.)

“We all know how damaging climate change is to our Colorado way of life, and about the strange and increasingly severe weather we are seeing across the state, especially since it just came out that 1 in 14 trees are dead from bug kill, largely from warming from climate change,” Jones said, referencing a report released this week by the State Forest Service on the health of Colorado’s forests.

“Scott Pruitt has not demonstrated he will support Colorado’s values as EPA administrator. This just shows that in Colorado, we must go our own way to advocate for policies to protect our clean air, water and public lands and not follow the lead of Washington, D.C.”

ernest@coloradostatesman.com 

Ernest Luning

Ernest Luning

Ernest Luning is a political correspondent for Colorado Politics. He has covered politics and government for newspapers and online news sites in Colorado for more than 25 years, including at the Highlands Ranch Herald, the Jefferson Sentinels chain of community newspapers and the Aurora Sentinel, where he was the city hall and cops reporter. After editing the Aurora Daily Sun, he was a political reporter and blogger for The Colorado Independent site. For nearly a decade, he was a senior political reporter and occasional editor at The Colorado Statesman before the 119-year-old publication merged with Colorado Politics in 2017.