Trump to tap Oklahoma AG Pruitt to head EPA

President-elect Donald Trump made his choice for administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency today, and that choice is fossil-fuel-friendly Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt. "Al Gore's meeting with Mr. Trump the other day gave environmentalists hope, but that hope evaporated today when Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt was tapped to head the environmental protection agency, " she whined. His nomination will have to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate. In a pending lawsuit with several states Pruitt has attempted to halt Obama's Clean Power Plan to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants.

Writing in the conservative magazine National Review, Pruitt questioned "the degree and extent of global warming and its connection to the actions of mankind", adding that in the scientific community the "debate is far from settled".

"Scott Pruitt running the EPA is like the fox guarding the hen house". As attorney general he has been quick to sue the government, though mostly unsuccessfully, and the EPA has been a main target.

Pruitt, who met with Trump Thursday morning at Trump Tower in NY, has been an ardent defender of fossil fuels and the coal industry.

During his presidential campaign, Mr. Trump pledged to "cancel" USA involvement in the Paris climate agreement, a landmark global accord that attempts to halt the effects of climate change.

"Congress has spoken very specifically, very prescriptively, particularly in the environmental space with respect to state implementation plans and under the Clean Air Act", Pruitt said.

Liberal groups also assailed his selection, saying Pruitt would undermine efforts to regulate energy companies.

"The critical issue is whether EPA will continue to play its vital role in protecting people's health and safety in communities across the country", he said in a statement.

In a blistering statement, the state's top cop said he is "ready to use the full power" of his office to battle Pruitt if he "fails to uphold our nation's environmental laws". Pruitt has also said he is skeptical of climate change. "We can and should expect he will attempt to do so, and that he will be sued every step along the way by states, cities and environmental groups devoted to continuing progress".

The EPA chief also has a strong impact on USA actions to combat climate change: the agency both determines what worldwide commitments the country is able to make, and implements the measures. Pruitt's job will be to make sure there is as little environmental protection as possible.

If the courts do uphold the Clean Power Plan as is, environmental law experts say that the Trump administration would have to prove that there was a "non-arbitrary" reason for attempting to change or abolish the rule.

  • Jon Douglas