WASHINGTON — Sen. Ben Cardin said he had "major concerns" with President-elect Donald Trump's choice to the lead the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency after meeting with him on Tuesday.
The Maryland Democrat and member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works said he spoke with Oklahoma Attorney General E. Scott Pruitt about cleanup efforts for the Chesapeake Bay, controversial regulations on streams and energy policy.
"I must be candid, I don't think today's conversations alleviated my concerns, but it was the beginning of a process," Cardin said after the meeting.
"I want to make sure the person I could support for the Environmental Protection Agency is a person who believes in the mission of the Environmental Protection Agency," Cardin added, "and what I've seen so far gives me major concerns."
The Environment and Public Works Committee is expected to hold a confirmation hearing for Pruitt as soon as next week.
Pruitt -- one of 21 state attorneys general who sued unsuccessfully to halt the EPA's Chesapeake Bay cleanup program -- said that he does see a role for the federal government in continuing to enforce that effort, Cardin said.
Cardin described that portion of his discussion with Pruitt as "positive," but added he did not get the impression the Trump administration would be aggressive in enforcing the agreement.
Cardin said he was unable to pin Pruitt down on climate change, and whether the appointee believes the EPA will have a role in addressing it.
"It was not terribly helpful for me," Cardin said. "He didn't express a view."