Trump’s EPA nominee faces tough confirmation fight
Government | Scott Pruitt, denounced by critics as a ‘climate change denier,’ has long challenged the agency he’s been tapped to run
by Evan Wilt
Posted 12/08/16, 01:15 pm
WASHINGTON—President-elect Donald Trump confirmed this morning he intends to nominate Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to lead the Environmental Protection Agency—infuriating Democrats and environmental groups.
As Oklahoma’s top law officer, Pruitt has challenged many of President Barack Obama’s EPA regulations, including the Clean Power Plan and the Clean Water Rule. Liberals claim Pruitt is dangerous because he doesn’t believe the human effect on climate change is settled science. Trump says Pruitt will fight back against overzealous environmental regulations—saving money and American jobs.
“For too long, the Environmental Protection Agency has spent taxpayer dollars on an out-of-control, anti-energy agenda that has destroyed millions of jobs, while also undermining our incredible farmers and many other businesses and industries at every turn,” Trump said in a statement this morning. “My administration strongly believes in environmental protection, and Scott Pruitt will be a powerful advocate for that mission while promoting jobs, safety, and opportunity.”
In a statement accepting the nomination, Pruitt, 48, echoed Trump’s claims, saying the EPA wastes billions each year and cripples job growth.
In a May op-ed for National Review, Pruitt and Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange explained why they have pushed back on many EPA regulations and what they believe about climate change.
“Healthy debate is the lifeblood of American democracy, and global warming has inspired one of the major policy debates of our time,” they wrote. “Scientists continue to disagree about the degree and extent of global warming and its connection to the actions of mankind. That debate should be encouraged—in classrooms, public forums, and the halls of Congress. It should not be silenced with threats of prosecution. Dissent is not a crime.”
Pruitt will need to clear a Senate confirmation vote to take over as EPA administrator, and several lawmakers already plan to challenge his nomination.
“This is the worst-case scenario when it comes to clean air and clean water, to nominate a climate denier to the agency charged with protecting our natural resources,” said Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii.
Schatz is part of a block of Democrats who plan to stymie Pruitt’s approval. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., called Pruitt a dangerous pick.
But in concurring statements, Sens. James Lankford, R-Okla., and Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., rushed to the attorney general’s defense.
Lankford said Pruitt will help restore balance to government regulations that will foster economic growth as well as ensure stewardship for the environment: “The American people deserve an EPA that rejects extreme activism and instead returns to its proper interpretation of environmental law.”
Inhofe added Pruitt has a record of cutting red tape and easing burdens on taxpayers and businesses.
But environmental groups bemoaned his nomination and called on the Senate to block the appointment.
“Scott Pruitt has built his political career by trying to undermine EPA’s mission of environmental protection,” said Fred Krupp, president of the Environmental Defense Fund. “He is a deeply troubling choice to head the agency that protects the clean air all Americans breathe and the clean water we drink.”
Lankford told C-SPAN this morning he expects Pruitt’s confirmation to be contentious—not because he’s a bad pick but because the EPA represents numerous political interests and impacts many American jobs.
Evan is a reporter for WORLD Digital based in Washington, D.C.