LETTER: Dean Heller should oppose Scott Pruitt, Donald Trump’s choice to lead the EPA

If the first week of the Trump administration is any indication, Nevada’s public, environmental and economic health will be under assault for the next four years. But it’s easy to forget that President Trump’s pick to lead the EPA, Scott Pruitt, has not yet been confirmed by the Senate.

As head of the EPA, Scott Pruitt will be the one determining how the agency proceeds on a wide range of projects that directly impact Nevada. In 2016, Nevada received almost $50 million from the EPA for projects ranging from environmental education and programs on tribal lands to remediation of hazardous waste and pollution prevention.

The EPA provides grants to clean up Nevada’s six Superfund sites, it determines standards at the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository site, and maintains air- and water-quality standards at the state’s coal and natural gas plants. Nevada Sen. Dean Heller has supported many of these EPA programs, including a bill authorizing the EPA to help small Nevada communities comply with the Safe Drinking Water Act and a bill to restore the clarity of Lake Tahoe.

Now more than ever, Sen. Heller has the opportunity to keep Nevada’s health and environment safe from an EPA nominee who has taken every opportunity to fight for fossil-fuel interests. Nevada has some of the greatest potential for solar power in the nation. It is home to a booming electric vehicle economy and it has successfully fought for decades to keep nuclear waste from Yucca Mountain. Scott Pruitt has shown no interest in supporting this progress, and Sen. Heller can make sure he doesn’t have the chance to stop it.