Backlash, Praise For EPA Pick AG Scott Pruitt
OKLAHOMA CITY - After making a career out of opposing the Environmental Protection Agency, Attorney General Scott Pruitt will head it under President-elect Donald Trump, and environmentalists are taking aim.
“Just not pleased and do not believe Scott Pruitt would be a good choice to lead the EPA,” Oklahoma Sierra Club Chapter President Johnson Bridgwater said on Thursday.
“President-elect Trump has flunked,” Reah Suh, President of the National Resources Defense Council said in a statement just after the announcement on Wednesday. “If confirmed, Pruitt seems destined for the environmental hall of shame.”
Pruitt has a history of being cozy with oil and gas companies. In 2013, Continental Energy CEO Harold Hamm led Pruitt's reelection committee and companies like Conoco-Phillips and BP were major donors. He’s also been involved in more than a dozen lawsuits against the agency, namely suits against President Obama’s Clean Power Plan and the Waters of the United States act. It’s unclear, however, how he would be able to continue several ongoing suits while directing the EPA.
Pruitt is also widely known as a climate change denier. In 2015, he co-authored an Op-ed in the National Review and wrote, “Scientists continue to disagree about the degree and extent of global warming and its connection to the actions of mankind.”
According to NASA, 97-percent of climate scientists agree climate change is real and caused by human activity.
Groups like the Sierra Club point to Oklahoma's earthquake epidemic and Pruitt's reaction - or lack of one - while he's been in office as a sign he's not on the side of the environment.
“The attorney general, who's supposed to be the spokesperson and protect the citizens of the state hasn't stepped in or even spoken out on this situation,” Bridgwater said.
But oil and gas companies disagree and see Pruitt as a foot in the door to meetings they feel they've been left out of for the last eight years.
“We're excited because we're going to have a seat at the table, because our knowledge is going to be shared as a part of the crafting of these regulations and we think we're going to get good results from it,” President of the Oklahoma Oil and Gas Association Chad Warmington, who called Pruitt a “coalition builder,” said.
Pruitt's appointment may also be the first piece of an energy mini-cabinet, as rumors continue to swirl around whether Governor Mary Fallin will be named Secretary of the Interior department and if Energy Tycoons like Hamm or Devon Energy CEO Larry Nichols will be named Energy Secretary. Hamm has recently denied he’s in the running for the position.
Pruitt’s office did not return several requests for a comment.