President-elect Trump has selected Oklahoma attorney general Scott Pruitt to head the Environmental Protection Agency. Pruitt is a close ally of the fossil fuel industry who has been a leader of efforts to block President Obama’s climate change rules.
While Trump vacillates in what he says regarding energy and climate change, this move makes his intentions very clear. His administration intends to take apart the rules the Obama administration has put in place to combat climate change, including the Clean Power Plan and US participation in the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement. According to the New York Times, “It will not be possible for Mr. Trump to unilaterally cancel the rules (in the Clean Power Plan), which were released under the 1970 Clean Air Act. But it would be possible for a legally experienced E.P.A. chief to substantially weaken, delay or slowly dismantle them.”
There is no question where Pruitt stands on these issues.
We have often chronicled on this site that Oklahoma has sided with the oil and gas industry at the expense of local landowners. The state has enacted legislation to take away local control over oil and gas drilling, has been slow to regulate activities that cause earthquakes, and would rather pray for oil companies than regulate them.
But Pruitt has put himself at the forefront of an alliance among state attorneys general, including Montana’s Tim Fox, who are working with energy companies and other corporate interests, which are in turn contributing large amounts of money for their political campaigns.
In 2011 Pruitt wrote a letter to the EPA that alleged that federal regulators were grossly overestimating the amount of air pollution caused by energy companies drilling new natural gas wells in his state. The letter was actually authored by attorneys from Devon Energy, one of the largest natural gas operators in Oklahoma.
In 2013, Tim Fox joined Pruitt and two other state attorneys general in protesting BLM plans to regulate hydraulic fracturing on federal land. The Montana Environmental Information Center (MEIC) later filed suit against Fox for failure to disclose documents related to his support of the protest.
Despite calling climate change a “Chinese hoax,” and railing against the Paris Agreement and the “war on coal,” on the campaign trail, Trump recently told reporters that he had an “open mind” about climate change. Yesterday he met with Al Gore on the subject, giving a bit of hope to those who care about the issue.
Don’t believe it. Actions speak louder than words.
Update 12/7/2016: Here is Scott Pruitt’s tweet on his nomination: