Trump Picks Ally of Fossil Fuel Industry to Lead EPA

Thursday, December 08, 2016
Scott Pruitt




By Coral Davenport and Eric Lipton, New York Times


WASHINGTON — President-elect Donald Trump has selected Scott Pruitt, the Oklahoma attorney general and a close ally of the fossil fuel industry, to run the Environmental Protection Agency, signaling Trump’s determination to dismantle President Barack Obama’s efforts to counter climate change — and much of the EPA itself.


Pruitt, a Republican, has been a key architect of the legal battle against Obama’s climate change policies, actions that fit with the president-elect’s comments during the campaign. Trump has criticized the established science of human-caused global warming as a hoax, vowed to “cancel” the Paris accord committing nearly every nation to taking action to fight climate change, and attacked Obama’s signature global warming policy, the Clean Power Plan, as a “war on coal.”


“Scientists continue to disagree about the degree and extent of global warming and its connection to the actions of mankind,” Pruitt wrote in National Review earlier this year. “That debate should be encouraged — in classrooms, public forums, and the halls of Congress. It should not be silenced with threats of prosecution. Dissent is not a crime.”


A meeting Monday between the president-elect and former Vice President Al Gore may have given environmental activists a glimmer of hope that Trump was moderating his campaign stance. With the choice of Pruitt, that hope will have faded.


“During the campaign, Mr. Trump regularly threatened to dismantle the EPA and roll back many of the gains made to reduce Americans’ exposures to industrial pollution, and with Pruitt, the president-elect would make good on those threats,” said Ken Cook, head of the Environmental Working Group, a Washington research and advocacy organization.


Pruitt, 48, is a hero to conservative activists, one of a group of Republican attorneys general who formed an alliance with some of the nation’s top energy producers to push back against the Obama regulatory agenda.


“Attorney General Scott Pruitt has long been a defender of states’ rights and a vocal opponent of the current administration’s overreaching EPA,” said Laura Sheehan, a spokeswoman for the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, which works on behalf of the coal industry. “Mr. Pruitt will be a significant voice of reason when it comes to energy and environmental regulations.”


At the heart of Obama’s efforts to tackle climate change are a collection of EPA regulations aimed at forcing power plants to significantly reduce their emissions of planet-warming carbon dioxide pollution. Trump cannot unilaterally cancel the rules, which were released under the 1970 Clean Air Act. But a legally experienced EPA chief could substantially weaken, delay or slowly take them apart.


To Learn More:

World Leaders to Uphold Paris Climate Accord, With or Without the U.S. (by Karl Ritter, Associated Press)

Climate Change Denier Trump Cites Global Warming as Reason to Build Wall to Protect His Luxury Golf Course (by Michael Biesecker, Associated Press)

Sen. Inhofe Goes for Hypocrisy Record, Saying Climate Change is a Hoax, but Nuclear Power is Good because it Avoids “Dangerous Climate Change” (by Steve Straehley, AllGov)

Energy Companies Contribute to Republican State Attorneys General who then Fight Pollution Regulation (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


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