The Post edi­to­rial:

Don­ald Trump’s se­lec­tion of Scott Pruitt is too ex­treme for EPA post.

The Denver Post - - NEWS -

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

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