Environmentalists fear Trump EPA nomination
Fossil-fuel interest groups laud pick of Okla. AG Scott Pruitt
Environmentalists shuddered Wednesday amid reports presidentelect Donald Trump will nominate Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, a booster of the fossil fuel industry who has questioned scientists’ climate change consensus, to run and perhaps shrink the EPA. Fossil fuel interest groups rejoiced. “Who better to set the EPA in the right direction than someone who’s at the forefront of stopping unlawful rules?” Western Energy Alliance president Kathleen Sgamma said. “He’s been a leader in pushing back as the EPA has infringed on states’ authority and understands that centralized federal control is not the best way to protect the environment.”
International Association of Drilling Contractors President Jason McFarland said Trump picking Pruitt to run the EPA shows “a clear focus of the incoming administration to foster oil and gas development in the United States. … We expect that he will consider all of the reliable available data before developing and implementing any new regulation impacting our industry.”
The news of the nomination surfaced Wednesday, put forth by Pruitt staffers. Senators would have to confirm Pruitt, 48. As Oklahoma’s attorney general, Pruitt joined fellow Republicans suing the EPA over the Clean Power Plan, President Barack Obama’s effort to cut carbon emissions linked to climate change, as well as safeguards designed to protect water supplies.
“Scott Pruitt running the EPA is like the fox guarding the henhouse. Time and again he has fought to pad the profits of big polluters at the expense of public health,” said League of Conservation Voters President Gene Karpinski. “All people in this country have a right to breathe clean air, drink clean water, and enjoy the economic and health benefits of the clean energy revolution, and it’s vitally important that we have an EPA administrator who respects those rights.”
The environmental groups were mobilizing, saying they’ll urge senators to vote against Pruitt’s confirmation. Environmentalists increasingly are counting on states, including Colorado, where leaders have committed to continue an environmentfriendly shift off fossil fuels. Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper has said shifting away from coal-fired power to rely more on cleaner energy makes economic sense — in addition to reducing man-made carbon emissions linked to climate change.
In Congress, House Natural Resources Committee ranking member Rep. Raúl Grijalva, D-Ariz., said Americans who voted for Trump did not give a mandate to favor polluters at the expense of the environment.
“Mr. Pruitt, like Mr. Trump, laughs at the public even as he calls himself a servant of working families,” Grijalva said Wednesday. “He uses his office to help polluters at public expense and then denies it. He’s bragged about suing, trashing and manipulating the agency he’s now supposed to lead.”
Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt arrives at Trump Tower in New York on Wednesday.