By Valerie Volcovici and Timothy Gardner
7 December 2016
(WASHINGTON) – Donald Trump will pick an ardent opponent of President Barack Obama's measures to curb climate change as head of the Environmental Protection Agency, a Trump transition team source said on Wednesday, a choice that enraged green activists and cheered the oil industry.
Trump's choice, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, fits neatly with the Republican president-elect's promise to cut back the EPA and free up drilling and coal mining, and signals the likely rollback of much of Obama's environmental agenda.
Since becoming the top prosecutor for the major oil and gas producing state in 2011, Pruitt has launched multiple lawsuits against regulations put forward by the agency he is now poised to lead, suing to block federal measures to reduce smog and curb toxic emissions from power plants.
He is also a leading figure in a legal effort by several states to throw out the EPA's Clean Power Plan, the centerpiece of Obama's climate change strategy that requires states to curb carbon output.
In an interview with Reuters in September, Pruitt said he sees the Clean Power Plan as a form of federal "coercion and commandeering" of energy policy and that his state should have "sovereignty to make decisions for its own markets."
Pruitt, 48, has also said he is skeptical of climate change. In an opinion piece in an Oklahoma newspaper this year, he wrote that he believes the debate over global warming is "far from settled" and that scientists continue to disagree on the issue. An overwhelming majority of scientists around the world say manmade emissions are warming the planet. […]
"Scott Pruitt running the EPA is like the fox guarding the henhouse," said Gene Karpinski, president of the League of Conservation Voters, which supported Trump's opponent in the election, Democrat Hillary Clinton.
"Time and again, he has fought to pad the profits of Big Polluters at the expense of public health."
Heather Zichal, a former Deputy Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change under Obama, said Trump's choice was alarming.
"You can meet with Al Gore on Monday, pledge to keep Teddy Roosevelt's environmental legacy alive on Tuesday, but if you nominate the Clean Power Act's leading opponent to head the EPA on Wednesday, you're making an unequivocal statement about the direction of your leadership," she said. [more]