The Post editorial:
Donald Trump’s selection of Scott Pruitt is too extreme for EPA post.
President-elect Donald Trump’s campaign-trail attacks on the Environmental Protection Agency resonated with plenty of Americans, but we had hoped his recent meeting with Al Gore and his more level-headed comments acknowledging some man-made contribution to climate change to The New York Times suggested he sought to reform the agency — not destroy it.
Instead, it looks like Trump truly does wish to dismantle the EPA. His pick of Scott Pruitt to lead it strikes us as unnecessarily reckless, and we urge the Senate to deny confirmation and demand a better way forward.
We’ve had issues with the EPA over the years. Coloradans remember with dismay the EPAcaused spill at the Gold King Mine. We’ve criticized the agency for dodging its responsibility to review the actual effectiveness of the federal ethanol fuel mandate. We’ve suggested that limits on background ozone levels in Western mountain states are too onerous. We’ve bridled at aspects of the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan.
Against that backdrop, we would understand and possibly welcome a Trump pick who promised to reform the agency with an eye toward reasonable, sciencebased regulation. Consider the leadership, say, of Gov. John Hickenlooper. No, we’d be surprised if Trump looked to the Democrat for such a post. But here in Colorado the governor has managed to balance competing interests of fossilfuel development with an expansion of green energy and respect for public lands.
Trump should look for that kind of states’ rights leadership for the EPA.
But Pruitt, the attorney general in Oklahoma, doesn’t strike us as that type of thinker. The AG isn’t just a hardliner, but a tool of the fossil-fuel industry too willing to do its bidding: even to the point of taking its dictation, as we’ll see.
In recent years, he’s made his name as a champion for those fighting back against the EPA’s efforts to curb man-made contributions to climate change. Pruitt ran for his current job on the promise of pushing back against the agency, and once elected aligned with the fossil-fuel industry in ways that have benefited his campaign coffers and those of the conservative coalition of state attorneys general he led as president for two terms.
That might be par for the course when it comes to fighting against the opposition. But Pruitt isn’t simply an ideologue looking for the kind of monetary support needed to get the message out.
Times reporters in 2014 found that energy lobbyists even wrote letters for Pruitt that the AG then copied onto state letterhead and sent to the EPA and other federal agencies, and to the president.
The revelation makes it difficult to see Pruitt as simply a disciple of states’ rights dedicated to defending common-sense regulations from Washington overreach under the Obama administration. Does the nation really want a Big Oil mouthpiece running the agency that’s charged with the laudable task of keeping our air and water safe?
We certainly hope not. We urge Colorado Sens. Michael Bennet and Cory Gardner to work with their colleagues to reject Pruitt’s confirmation, and ask Trump to look elsewhere.
Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt arrives at Trump Tower on Dec. 7. Presidentelect Donald Trump has nominated Pruitt to be head of the EPA. Getty