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"So there is a role for the EPA, it's just that they assert themselves in ways that are above that role," Pruitt said.

There are issues with respect to clean water and air that cross state lines," he added.

(CNN) —  

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, Donald Trump’s pick to run the Environmental Protection Agency, said in a 2013 speech that he does see an important role for the agency in preserving the environment.

Democrats have pledged to fight Pruitt’s nomination for the EPA because he is a prominent denier of climate science. Pruitt has also fought legal battles with the EPA over regulations about water and power plants.

In a 2013 speech at the High Noon Club in Oklahoma, Pruitt said he believed the EPA does have a role in regulating the environment, but that it must be challenged when it oversteps its role.

“May I say this to you and please hear my heart on this,” Pruitt said. “The EPA, we fight them tooth and nail – OK you know that, I’ve shared those things with you. There are issues with respect to clean water and air that cross state lines. There is a role, and I think it’s important for conservatives, for us to recognize, that though I don’t like the EPA, though I don’t like the authority that they’re exercising, though I think they are picking winners and losers to try to elevate renewables at the expense of fossil fuels, which I think is wrong as far as their authority is concerned, I think it’s not good for us to say that the EPA doesn’t have any role.”

He continued, “Because that is not — we have air issues across state issues that do affect, I mean, just think about it, you have a power plant in Arkansas that’s burning coal irresponsibly or inconsistent with the statue, and it comes over to Oklahoma and Texas. So there is a role for the EPA, it’s just that they assert themselves in ways that are above that role.”

“There is a proper role for the federal government, we have to recognize that proper role, and then make sure that they stay within their lane, just like we stay within our lane,” he added.