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Trump Picks Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to Head EPA

The selection of Scott Pruitt, a climate change denier, who is suing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, signals the incoming Trump Administration's antipathy for the environmental legacy of its predecessor.
December 8, 2016, 2pm PST | Irvin Dawid
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Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt at the 2015 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland.
Gage Skidmore

Two days after meeting with former Vice President Al Gore, a climate activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner, President-elect Trump has selected "Mr. Pruitt, a Republican, (and) key architect of the legal battle against Mr. Obama’s climate change policies," report Coral Davenport and Eric Lipton for The New York Times.

“During the campaign, Mr. Trump regularly threatened to dismantle the E.P.A. and roll back many of the gains made to reduce Americans’ exposures to industrial pollution, and with Pruitt, the president-elect would make good on those threats,” said Ken Cook, head of the Environmental Working Group, a Washington research and advocacy organization.

Trump's ability to roll-back President Obama's climate initiative by executive orders is limited, "[b]ut a legally experienced E.P.A. chief could substantially weaken, delay or slowly take them apart," write Davenport and Lipton.

The Times reporters also detail the close working relationship that Pruitt established with the fossil fuel industry as Oklahoma attorney general.

Mr. Pruitt’s office also began to send letters to federal regulators — including the E.P.A. and even to President Obama — that documents obtained through open records requests show were written by energy industry lobbyists from companies including [Oklahoma City-based] Devon Energy. Mr. Pruitt’s staff put these ghostwritten letters on state government stationery and then sent them to Washington...

"Pruitt, who has written that the debate on climate change is 'far from settled,' joined a coalition of state attorneys general in suing the agency’s Clean Power Plan," reports The Washington Post. "He has also sued, with fellow state attorneys general, over the EPA’s recently announced regulations seeking to curtail the emissions of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, from the oil and gas sector."

"With so much at stake, Mr. Pruitt’s confirmation hearings promise to be heated," add Davenport and Lipton.

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Published on Wednesday, December 7, 2016 in The New York Times
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