Pryor Confirmation Threatens National Environmental Safeguards

Senate confirms Pryor despite unprecedented opposition from conservation groups


Glenn Sugameli, 202-667-4500 x. 221
Jim Cox, 202-667-4500 x. 202
Jared Saylor, 202-667-4500 x. 235

The Senate voted 53 to 45 today to confirm former Alabama Attorney General William Pryor to a lifetime seat on the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, which hears appeals of federal environmental cases in Florida, Georgia and Alabama. William Pryor’s aggressive anti-environmental record caused a then-record number of conservation groups to oppose a judicial nominee.

“Mr. Pryor aggressively pursued sweeping efforts to invalidate core environmental protections as unconstitutional, sided with corporate polluters by failing to crack down on clean water violations, and opposed the EPA’s enforcement of Clean Air Act safeguards against power-plant and oil-refinery pollution that harms downwind states,” said Glenn Sugameli, Senior Legislative Counsel at Earthjustice.

When the Judiciary Committee asked Mr. Pryor about environmental issues during earlier hearings, he gave evasive responses that failed to answer questions.

“Judicial nominees like William Pryor are phase two of the Bush Administration’s assault on federal environmental protections,” Sugameli said. “When they can’t convince Congress to repeal clean air, clean water and other legal safeguards, they threaten to strike down or rewrite those laws from the bench by putting partisan ideologues like Pryor on our independent federal courts.”

Mr. Pryor stood alone among the 50 state attorneys general in challenging the constitutionality of significant portions of the Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act. He testified before Congress that “EPA invaded the province of the States” by enforcing the Clean Air Act to prevent uncontrolled pollution increases at dirty coal-burning power plants and oil refineries (even though the pollution harms downwind states). He also demonstrated hostility to claims of environmental injustice, stating unequivocally, “environmental racism claims should fail generally.”

“Mr. Pryor’s record indicates that he will bring to the bench an activist agenda that will seriously undermine decades of established federal safeguards for clean water, clean air, endangered species, and the health of minority communities,” added Sugameli.

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