Photo by Gage Skidmore/CC BY-SA 3.0
Article by Hannah Klaus
President-elect Donald Trump’s former campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, announced last Wednesday that Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt has been selected to lead the Environmental Protection Agency (6). This appointment is one of many that signal that the Trump administration will have a very different climate approach than his predecessor. Pruitt’s views on environmental regulation seem to contrast with the EPA’s. He is quite critical of EPA regulations and is a notorious climate change skeptic (1). He wrote that the debate on climate change is “far from settled” in an article in the National Review earlier this year (4). With all of this in mind, it is to be expected that, if confirmed by the senate, Pruitt will push back on much of the progress made by the Obama administration and will work to dismantle many current EPA regulations.
“The American people are tired of seeing billions of dollars drained from our economy due to unnecessary EPA regulations, and I intend to run this agency in a way that fosters both responsible protection of the environment and freedom for American businesses.” said Pruitt regarding his nomination (3).
Pruitt studied at Georgetown College, a conservative college in Kentucky, before receiving a law degree from the University of Tulsa. He began his career as a private lawyer and eventually served as a state senator from 1998 to 2006. He was elected Oklahoma Attorney General in 2010 and was reelected in 2014. During his campaigns, he received significant donations from oil companies and lobbyists (5). Pruitt’s close relationship with energy firms is well reported. It was reported by the New York Times that Pruitt sent a letter written by Devon Oil, one of Oklahoma’s largest oil companies to the EPA in 2011. The letter accused the EPA of overestimating the amount of air pollution caused by energy companies drilling natural gas wells in Oklahoma (2).
It is in some ways ironic that Trump has appointed a man who is currently taking legal action against the EPA to become the EPA chief administrator. Pruitt is a part of a group of attorneys general that is suing the EPA for the Clean Power Plan. The plan is aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions from power plants (3). In an article in the National Review earlier this year he wrote that the Clean Power Plan is, “…one of the most ambitious ever proposed, will shutter coal-fired power plants, significantly increase the price of electricity for American consumers, and enact by executive fiat the very same cap-and-trade system for carbon emissions that Congress has rejected” (4). Pruitt also sued the EPA with a group of attorneys general over their recently announced regulations to reduce methane emissions (3).
The nomination is in line with Trump’s previous statements of his plans for environmental protection. During the GOP debates, earlier on in the election, he promised to reduce the EPA to “tidbits” (7). Many senate democrats have already pledged to push back against Pruitt’s confirmation. Former New Jersey governor, Christine Todd Whitman, who was the head of the EPA under President George W. Bush, said that she is disappointed by Trump’s choice, but that, “Things often look different when you’re in office. So hopefully he’ll take a deep breath and see what he can do to provide the protections that the EPA is supposed to provide” (6).
- Bradner, Eric. “Trump Picks Scott Pruitt to Head EPA.” CNN. December 8, 2016. Accessed December 14, 2016. http://www.cnn.com/2016/12/07/politics/trump-picks-scott-pruitt-to-head-epa/.
- Lipton, Eric. “Energy Firms in Secretive Alliance With Attorneys General.” The New York Times. December 6, 2016. Accessed December 14, 2016. https://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/07/us/politics/energy-firms-in-secretive-alliance-with-attorneys-general.html?_r=0.
- Mooney, Chris, Brady Dennis, and Steven Mufson. “Trump Names Scott Pruitt, Oklahoma Attorney General Suing EPA on Climate Change, to Head the EPA.” The Washington Post. December 8, 2016. Accessed December 14, 2016. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2016/12/07/trump-names-scott-pruitt-oklahoma-attorney-general-suing-epa-on-climate-change-to-head-the-epa/?utm_term=.a9bdfb1719b9.
- Pruitt, Scott, and Luther Strange. “The Climate-Change Gang.” National Review. May 17, 2016. Accessed December 14, 2016. http://www.nationalreview.com/article/435470/climate-change-attorneys-general.
5.. Restuccia, Alex Guillén and Andrew, and Andrew Restuccia. “Trump Picks Oil Ally Pruitt to Head EPA.” POLITICO. December 7, 2016. Accessed December 14, 2016. http://www.politico.com/blogs/donald-trump-administration/2016/12/oklahoma-ag-pruitt-epa-chief-232319.
6.. Roth, Sammy. “Trump’s EPA Pick Rejects Climate Science, Fights for Fossil Fuels.” USA Today. December 09, 2016. Accessed December 14, 2016. http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2016/12/09/trumps-epa-pick-rejects-climate-science-fights-fossil-fuels/95231986/.
- Team Fix. “The Fox News GOP Debate Transcript, Annotated.” The Washington Post. March 3, 2016. Accessed December 14, 2016. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2016/03/03/the-fox-news-gop-debate-transcript-annotated/?utm_term=.4cf0cc2ab140.