Pretty Prairie water comes up in confirmation hearing

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A four-year fight over the water supply in a Reno County town became an issue Wednesday during the confirmation hearing of President-elect Trump's nominee to head the Environmental Protection Agency.

Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kansas, urged Scott Pruitt to find "common-sense solutions" to the dilemma in Pretty Prairie. The town was cited by the EPA in 2013 for having excessive levels of nitrates in the water supply. Pretty Prairie officials have been planning to build a new water treatment system for years. Moran said Wednesday that if the EPA requires it, Pretty Prairie residents may be forced to pay $80 a month more for water.

"The community seemingly is satisfied with the solution of the city providing an alternative," Moran told Pruitt. He explained Pretty Prairie has provided free bottled water to residents for decades. Moran called the EPA's demand for a $2.4 million treatment plant "a rigid decision as compared to a community-based decision."

In response, Pruitt quoted "a saying in the environmental space: ‘national standards, neighborhood solutions.’" He offered to work with Moran on finding a "good outcome" in Pretty Prairie.

The Associated Press reported Pruitt also told the confirmation hearing that climate change is real, breaking with both the president-elect and his own past statements.

Pressed by Democrats, the Oklahoma Attorney General said he disagreed with Trump's past statements that global warming is a hoax created by the Chinese to harm the economic competitiveness of the United States.

Pruitt has previously cast doubt on the extensive body of scientific evidence showing that the planet is warming and that man-made carbon emissions are to blame. In a 2016 opinion article, Pruitt suggested that the debate over global warming "is far from settled."

Pruitt's comments came less than an hour after federal scientists affirmed that 2016 was officially the hottest year in recorded history.

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