Updated: Trump taps fossil fuel ally Scott Pruitt to head EPA
- President-elect Donald Trump will appoint Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt (R) to head the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, multiple news outlets report.
- Pruitt is an ardent critic of the EPA's power sector regulations under President Obama and has worked with generators and fossil fuel companies to combat stricter environmental rules. He is one of the leaders of a lawsuit challenging federal carbon rules under the Clean Power Plan.
- Reports of Pruitt's appointment were based on unnamed sources in the Trump transition team. Pruitt's nomination would be reviewed by the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works before being sent to the floor for a vote.
Oklahoma's top lawyer since 2011, Scott Pruitt is an ardent critic of the Obama administration's environmental policy and an advocate for a state-based approach to energy and environmental regulation.
While he was not the public face of the campaign, Pruitt's office put considerable work into preparing the legal challenge against the Clean Power Plan, the Tulsa World reports, the nation's first set of carbon regulations for existing power plants.
The D.C. Circuit Court is currently reviewing the rules, which Trump has promised to scrap during his first 100 days in office. During his tenure, Pruitt also sued the EPA over its Cross-State Air Pollution Rules and the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards.
Pruitt's cooperation with the fossil fuel industry has been consistent through his tenure, a 2014 New York Times investigation found, with trade groups and companies joining his office in legal challenges and petitions against the EPA. In one instance, Pruitt's office pasted his letterhead on a note written by an energy lobbyist to the EPA arguing the agency was not properly measuring pollution from natural gas drilling.
Pruitt is also skeptical of climate science, writing this May that the debate is "far from settled."
"Scientists continue to disagree about the degree and extent of global warming and its connection to the actions of mankind," he wrote in a National Journal op-ed. "That debate should be encouraged — in classrooms, public forums, and the halls of Congress."
Environmental organizations have already criticized Trump's selection, with Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune likening the choice to "putting an arsonist in charge of fighting fires" in a statement.
Though he has been critical of what he calls an "anti-fossil fuel" stance at the EPA, Pruitt has said he does not support abolishing the agency — which Trump called for during the campaign, before backtracking.
“Some believe that we don’t need an EPA, that they don’t have any role at all,” Pruitt told Oklahoma StateImpact earlier this year. "I’m not one of those folks. I think the EPA can serve — and has served, historically — a very valuable purpose.”
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