Trump’s pick to head the EPA? A man who’s suing it.

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt has tried to block rules reducing pollution and protecting water.

 

President-elect Trump has announced his pick for head for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency – Republican Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt. The twist? Pruitt is currently suing the agency he’ll soon lead. He has helped lead the battle against key climate-change initiatives such as the Clean Power Plan, which 29 state attorneys-general are contesting. Pruitt and other attorneys-general are also suing the agency over a rule regulating methane emissions from oil and gas production, as well as over other rules meant to curb mercury and arsenic emissions, reduce smog, and protect streams and wetlands.

Attorney General Scott Pruitt of Oklahoma speaking at the 2016 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland. Gage Skidmore
Attorney General Scott Pruitt of Oklahoma speaking at the 2016 Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Maryland.
Gage Skidmore

Pruitt joins Oklahoma GOP senators James Inhofe and Tom Coburn in questioning the need to act on climate change. In an op-ed in The National Review earlier this year, Pruitt wrote that the debate is “far from settled” and called the Clean Power Plan an example of “advancing the climate-change agenda by any means necessary.” In 2014, he sent the EPA a letter claiming that the agency had greatly overestimated the air pollution produced by natural gas drilling in Oklahoma. The New York Times later reported that the letter was actually written by lawyers for Devon Energy, one of the biggest energy companies in the state – and that Pruitt and a dozen other Republican attorneys general had teamed up with energy companies to push back against what they saw as regulatory excesses by Obama.

Oil wells on a rural road around sunset in Northern Oklahoma.
Clinton Steeds

Pruitt’s pro-energy stance and aggressive fights against federal regulations helped him get the nod. “You are going to want to have someone who has had state experience, who really understands the issues and has had to deal with an overreaching EPA as a federal agency,” George “David” Banks, executive vice president of the American Council for Capital Formation, told E&E News in September.

Environmental groups such as the Natural Resources Defense Council and Defenders of Wildlife immediately denounced the “absolute wrong choice” of Pruitt to lead the 15,000-employee agency. Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., wrote in a press release that “he’s bragged about suing, trashing and manipulating the agency he’s now supposed to lead.” And the American Sustainable Business Council stated in a press release that “Pruitt’s selection signals a rollback of policies that have stimulated innovation and progress. In addition to clean energy, clean water and chemical regulation are under threat as a result of preferential treatment these regulated industries are expected to receive.”

  Jodi Peterson is High Country News’ senior editor.

High Country News Classifieds
  • LAND ACQUISTIONS SPECIALIST - RENEWABLE ENERGY
    Energiekontor US seeks experienced local candidate, must reside in western South Dakota. Send resume and cover letter to: [email protected]
  • TRANSPORTATION PLANNER
    TRANSPORTATION PLANNER Exciting opportunity to lead the charge on meeting the future transportation demands of our community! This position will develop, coordinate, and implement the...
  • EARNED MEDIA MANAGER WITH WESTERN RESOURCE ADVOCATES
    Founded in 1989, Western Resource Advocates (WRA) is dedicated to protecting the Wests land, air, and water to ensure that vibrant communities exist in balance...
  • WILDLAND FIRE INSTRUCTOR
    Needed: instructor with 5 years *documented* instruction experience, current qualifications, M-410 or equivalent, and able to work as-needed for NM non-profit working with at-risk youth.
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    Seeking passionate full-time Executive to lead the oldest non-profit organization in Idaho. Must have knowledge of environmental issues, excellent organizational, verbal presentation and written skills,...
  • COLORADO PROGRAM MANAGER
    The National Parks Conservation Association, the leading non-profit conservation organization protecting Americas national parks, seeks a Program Manager for its Colorado Field Office located in...
  • CONSERVATION DIRECTOR
    Carbondale based public lands advocate, Wilderness Workshop, seeks a Conservation Director to help direct and shape the future of public land conservation on the West...
  • DEPUTY DIRECTOR FOR WATER PLANNING WITH WRA'S HEALTHY RIVERS PROGRAM
    Founded in 1989, Western Resource Advocates (WRA) is dedicated to protecting the Wests land, air, and water to ensure that vibrant communities exist in balance...
  • TROUT UNLIMITED BIGHORN RIVER BASIN PROJECT MANAGER
    The Bighorn River Basin Project Manager identifies and implements projects to improve streamflows, restore stream and riparian habitat, improve fish passage and rehabilitate or replace...
  • NON-PROFIT OPERATIONS MANAGER
    One of the most renowned community-based collaboratives in the country seeks full-time Operations Manager to oversee administrative, financial, fund development, and board development duties. BS/BA...
  • RUSTIC HORSE PROPERTY
    in NM. 23 acres, off the grid, rustic cabin, organic gardens, fruit trees, fenced, call 505-204-8432 evenings.
  • DIRECTOR OF VISITOR SERVICES & BOOKSTORE OPERATIONS
    The San Juan Mountains Association in Durango, CO is seeking a Director of Visitor Services & Bookstore Operations to lead our visitor information program &...
  • SOLAR POWERED HOME NEAR CAPITOL REEF NATIONAL PARK
    1800 sf home on 4.12 acres surrounded by Natl Forest and recreational opportunities in a beautiful area (Happy Valley) between Torrey and Boulder. [email protected], www.bouldermoutainreality/properties/grover/off-the-grid-in-happy-valley,...
  • 40 ACRE ORGANIC FARM
    potential fruit/hay with house, Hotchkiss, CO, Scott Ellis, 970-420-0472, [email protected]
  • LAND CONSERVATION DIRECTOR
    Manage, develop and implement all stewardship and land management plans and activities on both private and public lands. Guide and direct comprehensive planning efforts, provide...
  • INTERNET-BASED BUSINESS FOR SALE
    Dream of owning your own business, being your own boss, working from home ... this is the one. 928-380-6570, www.testshop.com. More info at https://bit.ly/2Kgi340.
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    If you are deeply committed to public service and would like to become part of our high performing, passionate and diverse team, NCAT is looking...
  • TRIPLEX .8 ACRE KANAB, UT
    Create a base in the center of Southern Utah's Grand Circle of National Parks. Multiple residential property with three established rental units and zoning latitude...
  • FORGE & FAB SHOP
    with home on one beautiful acre in Pocatello, ID. Blackrock Forge - retiring after 43 years! Fully equipped 5,500 sf shop including office, gallery and...
  • SMALL FARM AT THE BASE OF MOUNT SHASTA
    Certified organic fruit/berry/veggie/flower farm. Home, barns, garage, separate apt, more. Just under 2 ac, edge of town. Famously pure air and water. Skiing, mountaineering, bike,...