Business insider - Donald Trump has picked Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to lead the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) during his administration.
The Sierra Club, at 124 years old, is one of the most venerable environmental groups in the US. The group released a statement calling Pruitt unfit to serve as EPA Administrator, and comparing the choice to "putting an arsonist in charge of fighting fires."
Pruitt, 48, has served as Attorney General for Oklahoma since 2011. In that time he's stood out among state-level politicians for his sharp opposition to EPA regulations — a position cited as a badge of honor on his official biography on his office's website.
He is part of a lawsuit designed to tear up the EPA's Clean Power Plan, a signature Obama administration effort to combat greenhouse gas emissions.
He's also part of a state administration that has taken a favorable stance toward fossil fuel extractors. During his five-year tenure as Oklahoma attorney general, a method of oil extraction that involves pumping saltwater into the ground became much more common in the state. The result was a sharp increase in earthquakes.
Before his term as State Attorney General, he served eight years in the Oklahoma State Senate, where, according to his official biography, he focused on "fiscal responsibility, religious freedom and pro-life issues."
Eco Watch = Pruitt, who was elected as Oklahoma's top legal officer in November 2010, states on his own LinkedIn page that he "has led the charge with repeated notices and subsequent lawsuits against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for their leadership's activist agenda and refusal to follow the law."
Although the president-elect will not be able to completely cancel Obama's historic carbon emissions standards for power plants, having a legally experienced EPA head can help "substantially weaken, delay or slowly dismantle them," the New York Times reported.
Pruitt was among a handful of other attorneys general that began planning as early as 2014 a coordinated legal effort to fight the Obama Administration's climate rules. That effort has resulted in a 28-state lawsuit against the Clean Power Plan. The case is now pending in federal court, but likely to advance to the Supreme Court, the New York Times said.
Trump's latest appointee falls in line with his other cabinet picks who deny the overwhelming scientific consensus that human activity is causing climate change. Pruitt once wrote an editorial questioning "the degree and extent of global warming and its connection to the actions of mankind."
The Heartland Institute, a nonprofit that questions the reality and import of climate change, celebrated Trump's EPA appointment. H. Sterling Burnett, research fellow at The Heartland Institute, said in response, "It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!"
Keith Gaby, the senior communications director of the Environmental Defense Fund, noted that since 2002, Pruitt has "received more than $314,996 from fossil fuel industries." In 2014, Pruitt was infamously caught sending letters to President Obama and federal agency heads asserting that the EPA was overestimating the air pollution from drilling for natural gas in Oklahoma. Turns out, the letter was by lawyers for one of state's largest oil and gas companies, Devon Energy.
Harold G. Hamm, the chief executive of Continental Energy, was also co-chairman of Pruitt's 2013 re-election campaign.
"By appointing Scott Pruitt as head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Trump is putting America at risk," Greenpeace spokesperson Travis Nichols said. "Pruitt is a pure product of the oil and gas industry, installed in successive government posts to sell out his constituents at every turn. He will push this country far behind the rest of the world in the race for 21st century clean energy. With Scott Pruitt as head of the EPA, the people and the environment will be in the hands of a man who cares about neither."