Oklahoma attorney general Scott Pruitt is expected to be announced as Donald Trump’s choice to lead the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Although Trump said in 2013 that climate change was a “hoax invented by the Chinese”, it seemed as though he had softened his stance more recently in saying that he was keeping an “open mind” about the relationship between humans and climate change. However, this nomination might suggest otherwise.
Trump's nominee to lead EPA, Scott Pruitt, is a climate denier who's worked closely with the fossil fuel industry. That's sad and dangerous.— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) December 7, 2016
Pruitt is a climate-change denier whose policies have helped fossil fuel companies, so it would certainly be a controversial appointment. Before it’s official, let’s take a closer look at where Pruitt stands on the environment.
Earlier this year Pruitt wrote an article in the National Review with the attorney general of Alabama Luther Strange called The Climate Change Gang. In it they write: “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 is part of the action taken by 28 states to stop the EPA’s Clean Power Plan. The plan was put into action last year by Barack Obama to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired power plants.
His LinkedIn page describes him as a “leading advocate against the EPA’s activist agenda”, which suggests that if he was appointed as head of the organisation he would make some major changes.
Oklahoma provides 10% of the USA’s total natural gas output, so it’s perhaps no wonder that Pruitt has repeatedly affirmed his support for the industry. His decisions as attorney general have been overwhelmingly pro-oil and gas, and he has voiced disagreement with the group of Democratic attorneys general who are investigating Exxon Mobil Corp’s handling of climate-change.
Indeed, many oil and gas magnates have contributed money towards Pruitt’s campaigns for office.
In 2014 the New York Times uncovered a letter that looked like it was written by Pruitt to the EPA saying that it had overestimated air pollution from natural gas drilling.
However, the NYT claimed that the letter was actually written by the lawyers of Devon Energy – a large oil and gas company – and Pruitt had just copied and pasted the text onto state stationary.
This doesn’t effect Pruitt’s stance on the environment, but it’s worth taking a quick look at some of his other controversial views.
He’s fought against transgender rights, is currently part of a lawsuit over Obama’s immigration policies, and is also suing Obama’s administration over the Affordable Care Act.