On Friday afternoon, the Senate confirmed Scott Pruitt as the new head of the Environmental Protection Agency, which may start a new era for the environmental policy of the United States.
Pruitt's confirmation leaves the U.S.'s fight against climate change and for environmental protection in the balance. It would potentially be a major step in the direction of the rumored assault on the EPA by the new administration.
Pruitt himself has sued the EPA 14 times and is now next in line to be its leader.
One report claims that Trump wants Pruitt to cut over $800 million from the department budget and no longer allow the EPA to fund its own scientific research.
Before voting on a new head of the agency, Congress has already pulled back on previous environmental regulations from the Obama administration. President Trump signed a measure on Thursday that prevented coal-mining companies from polluting waterways with waste, which was confirmed by both the House and the Senate under the Congressional Review Act.
The House Committee on Science, Space and Technology laid out plans earlier this month to review many of the EPA's practices and give more of a voice to the production industry, Buzzfeed reported. Part of those plans include a law that would limit the study of "secret data," which often use private medical data to craft policy.
Meanwhile, the environmental committee is waiting anxiously for any new executive orders to come out of the White House. Following the inauguration, the Trump administration swiftly removed any mention of climate change from the White House website.
Trump campaigned on pulling out of the U.N.-backed Paris Agreement, a global effort to curtail climate change. He also proposed pulling out of the litigation for the Clean Power Plan, which is currently under review in the U.S. Appeals Court.
However, the Los Angeles Times reported that Republicans have been warning the new administration that fighting climate change may not be as bad for business as Trump and his supporters believe.
"It really is right now just hearsay," said Vicki Arroyo, executive director of the Georgetown University Climate Center.
Arroyo said any future plans the Trump administration has for the EPA and the environment are rumor at this point. There are a number of ways the Trump administration could change direction of the U.S.'s environmental protection practices, whether domestically or internationally. The first step began with Pruitt's confirmation.
"It's really hard to say without knowing [what's next]," she said.