Trump taps Ok­la­homa at­tor­ney gen­eral for EPA.

Clean Power Plan to be tar­get af­ter pick sued agency

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY S.A. MILLER AND BEN WOLF­GANG Stephen Dinan con­trib­uted to this re­port.

Sig­nal­ing his in­tent to dis­man­tle the cen­ter­piece of Pres­i­dent Obama’s cli­mat­e­change legacy and rad­i­cally trans­form U.S. en­vi­ron­men­tal pol­icy, Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump will name Ok­la­homa At­tor­ney Gen­eral Scott Pruitt to lead the En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency, ac­cord­ing to a Trump tran­si­tion team source.

Se­nior ad­viser Kellyanne Con­way ap­peared to con­firm Mr. Pruitt had got­ten the nod as she ex­ited Trump Tower Wed­nes­day evening.

“We’re very ac­cus­tomed to the naysay­ers and the crit­ics,” Mrs. Con­way said. “At­tor­ney Gen­eral Pruitt has great qual­i­fi­ca­tions and a good record . ... We look for­ward to the con­fir­ma­tion hear­ings.”

The se­lec­tion of Mr. Pruitt vir­tu­ally guar­an­tees that the EPA’s mas­sive ef­fort to limit car­bon emis­sions by crip­pling the U.S. coal in­dus­try, known as the Clean Power Plan, will be an early tar­get of the in­com­ing ad­min­is­tra­tion. Mr. Pruitt, elected as Ok­la­homa’s at­tor­ney gen­eral in 2010, has sued the EPA mul­ti­ple times in chal­leng­ing the pres­i­dent’s reg­u­la­tory au­thor­ity, and he’s led the charge against the Clean Power Plan in fed­eral court.

The choice of Mr. Pruitt ou­traged en­vi­ron­men­tal­ists and Democrats on Capi­tol Hill who fear years of work lim­it­ing U.S. emis­sions and phas­ing out fos­sil fu­els will be rolled back.

Sen. Charles E. Schumer, the in­com­ing Se­nate mi­nor­ity leader, said Mr. Pruitt will face “many tough ques­tions” dur­ing con­fir­ma­tion hear­ings.

“At­tor­ney Gen­eral Pruitt’s re­luc­tance to ac­cept the facts or science on cli­mate change couldn’t make him any more out of touch with the Amer­i­can peo­ple — and with re­al­ity,” said the New York Demo­crat. “Cli­mate change is one of the big­gest threats fac­ing our coun­try and the world to­day, and we must take it se­ri­ously and take ac­tion to ad­dress it.”

The nom­i­na­tion called into ques­tion Mr. Trump’s com­mit­ment to fight­ing spe­cial in­ter­ests in Wash­ing­ton, he said, cit­ing Mr. Pruitt’s track record of “ad­vo­cat­ing on be­half of big oil at the ex­pense of pub­lic health.”

But lead­ing Repub­li­cans were more pos­i­tive, say­ing an EPA led by Mr. Pruitt will be less of a reg­u­la­tory bur­den to states and the Amer­i­can en­ergy in­dus­try.

Sen. Jim In­hofe, chair­man of the Se­nate En­vi­ron­ment and Pub­lic Works Com­mit­tee, sug­gested Mr. Pruitt will roll back crush­ing reg­u­la­tions and give states a true role in form­ing en­ergy and en­vi­ron­men­tal pol­icy.

“Pruitt has fought back against un­con­sti­tu­tional and overzeal­ous en­vi­ron­men­tal reg­u­la­tions like Wa­ters of the U.S. and the Clean Power Plan; he has proven that be­ing a good stew­ard of the en­vi­ron­ment does not mean bur­den­ing tax pay­ers and busi­nesses with red tape,” Mr. In­hofe said in a state­ment.

The se­lec­tion of Mr. Pruitt is one of the first con­crete signs that the Trump White House will take di­rect aim at the Clean Power Plan, a set of reg­u­la­tions de­signed to cut U.S. car­bon emis­sions by about 30 per­cent by 2030. The plan, which re­quires states to de­velop their own meth­ods for achiev­ing emis­sions re­duc­tions, was en­acted through reg­u­la­tions, not leg­is­la­tion, mean­ing the next pres­i­dent and EPA ad­min­is­tra­tor can dis­man­tle the pro­gram rel­a­tively eas­ily. The reg­u­la­tions are the cor­ner­stone of the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s larger cli­mate-change agenda, in­clud­ing its vow un­der the 2015 Paris cli­mate-change ac­cords that the U.S. will cut over­all green­house-gas emis­sions by at least 26 per­cent by 2025. With­out the Clean Power Plan, meet­ing that global pledge is not pos­si­ble.

Along with other at­tor­neys gen­eral from across the coun­try, Mr. Pruitt has been lead­ing the le­gal fight against the EPA plan. In Septem­ber, he was in Wash­ing­ton as Clean Power Plan op­po­nents ar­gued against the pro­posal in District Court. Af­ter­wards, he ar­gued that the ad­min­is­tra­tion is co­erc­ing states into en­act­ing its cli­mate-change agenda, and that Amer­i­cans will be sub­ject to higher en­ergy bills as a re­sult.

“This ad­min­is­tra­tion con­tin­ues to treat states as mere ves­sels of fed­eral will, abus­ing and dis­re­spect­ing the ver­ti­cal sep­a­ra­tion of pow­ers de­fined by our Con­sti­tu­tion,” he said at a press con­fer­ence fol­low­ing the ar­gu­ments. “I am com­mit­ted to en­sur­ing the ul­ti­mate payer in this mat­ter is not over­looked — the con­sumers.”

The an­tic­i­pated nom­i­na­tion quickly met re­sis­tance from Se­nate Democrats and en­vi­ron­men­tal ac­tivists.

Oil Change In­ter­na­tional, a lead­ing en­vi­ron­men­tal or­ga­ni­za­tion, called on law­mak­ers to re­sist the se­lec­tion.

“We call on Se­na­tors to re­ject this nom­i­na­tion, as well as other cli­mate-deny­ing, un­qual­i­fied, and re­gres­sive nom­i­nees. There is no place in our govern­ment for in­di­vid­u­als who refuse to ac­cept science and risk the safety of Amer­i­cans around the coun­try,” the group’s pres­i­dent, David Turn­bull, said in a state­ment.

Sen. Jeff Merkley, an Oregon Demo­crat and mem­ber of the Se­nate En­vi­ron­ment and Pub­lic Works Com­mit­tee, said the choice was “un­ac­cept­able.” And Sen. Bernard San­ders, the Vermont in­de­pen­dent who made a far-left run for the Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial nom­i­na­tion, said he will “vig­or­ously op­pose this nom­i­na­tion.”

“At a time when cli­mate change is the great en­vi­ron­men­tal threat to the en­tire planet, it is sad and dan­ger­ous that Mr. Trump has nom­i­nated Scott Pruitt to lead the EPA,” he said in a state­ment. “Mr. Pruitt’s record is not only that of be­ing a cli­mate change de­nier, but also some­one who has worked closely with the fos­sil fuel in­dus­try to make this coun­try more de­pen­dent, not less, on fos­sil fu­els. The Amer­i­can peo­ple must de­mand lead­ers who are will­ing to trans­form our en­ergy sys­tem away from fos­sil fu­els.”

Coal ad­vo­cates — who have ar­gued that the Clean Power Plan will drive up en­ergy costs for con­sumers — wel­comed the pick and said they be­lieve Mr. Pruitt will work to keep elec­tric­ity prices down. Fed­eral re­search has shown the Clean Power Plan will drive up elec­tric­ity costs, at least in the short term.

“Gen­eral Pruitt will be a strong ad­vo­cate for sen­si­ble poli­cies that are good for our en­vi­ron­ment, as well as mind­ful of the need for af­ford­able and re­li­able elec­tric­ity,” said Pail Bai­ley, se­nior vice pres­i­dent for pol­icy at the Amer­i­can Coali­tion for Clean Coal Elec­tric­ity.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

The choice of Ok­la­homa At­tor­ney Gen­eral Scott Pruitt to be Don­ald Trump’s pick to lead the En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency sig­nals the pres­i­dent-elect’s in­tent to dis­man­tle the cen­ter­piece of Pres­i­dent Obama’s cli­mate-change legacy.

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