Trump to tap Oklahoma AG Pruitt to head EPA

President-elect Donald Trump is reportedly appointing Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt as head of the Environmental Protection Agency, according to the Washington Post and several other news outlets.

As his state's top legal official, he sued the agency is he poised to lead multiple times, including a pending lawsuit to topple the EPA's Clean Power Plan, the centerpiece of Democratic President Barack Obama's climate change strategy.

"Scientists continue to disagree about the degree and extent of global warming and its connection to the actions of mankind", Pruitt wrote in the piece co-authored with Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange. While he would likely be unable to immediately revoke finalized EPA climate change rules pushed by the Obama administration like caps on automobile emissions, he could still direct the agency to begin the lengthy process of repealing the rules.

Scott Pruitt Attorney General of Oklahoma arrives to meet with U.S. President-elect Donald Trump at Trump Tower in Manhattan, New York City, U.S., December 7, 2016.

During his presidential campaign, Trump declared that if he was was elected he would "scrap the Clean Power Plan", which he described as a "war on coal and the war on miners". He is an inveterate denier of settled climate science and led the opposition to the EPA's Clean Power Plan to address the climate crisis.

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But representatives of the oil industry, and some Republican lawmakers, were cheered by the pick.

Pruitt has no background in environmental policy, a change from the two administrators that served in the Obama administration.

Perhaps most astonishing about Trump's selection of Pruitt to lead the federal agency is the fact that Pruitt is now suing the EPA in federal court.

"Respect for private property rights have allowed our nation to thrive, but with the recently finalized rule, farmers, ranchers, developers, industry and individual property owners will now be subject to the unpredictable, unsound and often byzantine regulatory regime of the EPA", Pruitt said a year ago. During the campaign, the NY billionaire said he would like to abolish the EPA, or at least gut regulations he says impede corporate profits. The investigation found that letters sent from Pruitt to President Obama and Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell were also written by Devon Energy. On Wednesday, the group released a statement calling Pruitt unfit to serve as EPA Administrator, and comparing the choice to "putting an arsonist in charge of fighting fires".

  • Toni Ryan