- Trump, who infamously once called global warming a hoax perpetrated by China, has previously stated that he intends to withdraw the US from the Paris Climate Agreement, stop all federal funding of clean energy technology development, and abolish the EPA.
- The selection of Pruitt could well portend that Trump means to make good on those threats.
- As Oklahoma’s top law enforcement official, Pruitt, a Republican, has helped spearhead legal efforts by a coalition of state attorneys general to roll back climate actions taken by the Obama Administration — including those undertaken by the EPA, the very agency Pruitt has been tapped to lead.
US President-elect Donald Trump has picked Oklahoma attorney general Scott Pruitt to head the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) under his administration.
Trump, who infamously once called global warming a hoax perpetrated by China, has previously stated that he intends to withdraw the US from the Paris Climate Agreement, stop all federal funding of clean energy technology development, and abolish the EPA. His selection of Pruitt could well portend that he means to make good on those threats.
As Oklahoma’s top law enforcement official, Pruitt, a Republican, has helped spearhead legal efforts by a coalition of state attorneys general to roll back climate actions taken by the Obama Administration — including those undertaken by the EPA, the very agency Pruitt has been tapped to lead.
Pruitt has joined with other Republican state attorneys general in suing the EPA to stop implementation of its Clean Power Plan, for instance. Another suit Pruitt joined as Oklahoma’s attorney general opposes the agency’s recently announced regulations that would rein in methane emissions from the oil and gas sector. According to the Washington Post, Pruitt proclaims on his LinkedIn profile that he is “a leading advocate against the EPA’s activist agenda.”
Pruitt has also made it clear that he does not believe climate science to be a settled matter. “Scientists continue to disagree about the degree and extent of global warming and its connection to the actions of mankind,” he asserted in the National Review in May.
In fact, as scientists at NASA have pointed out, multiple studies published in peer-reviewed scientific journals have shown that 97 percent or more of climate scientists agree that global warming trends over the past century are “extremely likely due to human activities.”
As soon as Trump’s choice of Pruitt for EPA was announced, the Oklahoma attorney general’s cozy relationship with the fossil fuel industry came under attack by environmentalists.
“Having Scott Pruitt in charge of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is like putting an arsonist in charge of fighting fires,” Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune said in a statement. “He is a climate science denier who, as Attorney General for the state of Oklahoma, regularly conspired with the fossil fuel industry to attack EPA protections. Nothing less than our children’s health is at stake.”
A 2014 investigation by the New York Times revealed that Pruitt was one of a number of Republican state attorneys general that had formed a “secretive alliance” with the fossil fuel industry in order to oppose the Obama Administration’s climate agenda, specifically the Clean Power Plan, which aims to reduce emissions from power plants in the US by setting state-level emissions targets. As part of its investigation, the New York Times discovered that Pruitt had copied letters written by fossil fuel industry lawyers nearly word-for-word onto official Oklahoma state letterhead and sent them to federal agencies and regulators in Washington, D.C.
“Attorneys general in at least a dozen states are working with energy companies and other corporate interests, which in turn are providing them with record amounts of money for their political campaigns, including at least $16 million this year,” the New York Times reported in 2014. Pruitt appears to have been no exception to this pay-to-play arrangement between attorneys general and fossil fuels interests: the CEO of Continental Energy, an Oklahoma-based oil and gas company, served as co-chairman of Pruitt’s 2013 reelection campaign, and Pruitt has accepted campaign contributions from some of the same industry players with whom he has jointly filed anti-regulatory lawsuits.
Confirmation hearings for Pruitt are expected to be a hotly contested affair. Senator Bernie Sanders, for instance, who sits on the Senate committee that must confirm Pruitt’s nomination to run the EPA, released a statement saying:
“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. 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. I will vigorously oppose this nomination.”