Oklahoma Attorney General And Climate Change Skeptic Scott Pruitt Takes To Take Over Head Of EPa

Oklahoma Attorney General And Climate Change Skeptic Scott Pruitt Takes To Take Over Head Of EPa

Just when you thought it couldn't get any worse for the EPA, and its battle to install fleet C02/54.5 MPG standards for 2025 before President-Elect Trump takes office, and to encourage "clean" energy sourcing and production (basically just trying to do the right thing for the health of the America people as a whole) - it does get worse.

Much worse.  The EPA as we know it has basically died.

President-Elect Trump has named Oklahoma attorney general Scott Pruitt, as his nominee for EPA administrator.

Why is this bad?  Without getting "into it" too much. Mr. Pruitt has sued the EPA, the organization he will now take over, THREE times to protect  the interests of the fossil-fuel industry.

And as (one assumes) as a requirement of being the 'bad guy' for big oil and coal, you have to cast doubt on climate change, of which Pruitt states the matter is "far from settled".

Now Pruitt will take over the agency, and he has the full blessing of the new administration to basically tear it down.  Trump's transition team in a news release Thursday said Pruitt "brings a deep understanding of the impact of regulations on both the environment and the economy," and add this not-so-cryptic note:

“For too long, the Environmental Protection Agency has spent taxpayer dollars on an out-of-control anti-energy agenda that has destroyed millions of jobs, while also undermining our incredible farmers and many other businesses and industries at every turn."

Trump said Pruitt will (via Washington Post):

"(Pruitt) will reverse this trend and restore the EPA’s essential mission of keeping our air and our water clean and safe. My administration “strongly believes in environmental protection, and Scott Pruitt will be a powerful advocate for that mission while promoting jobs, safety and opportunity.”

In a similar stomach-turning fashion, Pruitt said of his nomination,

"The American people are tired of seeing billions of dollars drained from our economy due to unnecessary EPA regulations, and I intend to run this agency in a way that fosters both responsible protection of the environment and freedom for American businesses."

As one expects, the Democrats are none too happy.

Sheldon Whitehouse (Sen from R.I.) said that he opposes Pruitt not just because he is a climate-change denier, but that he has spent "his entire life in service" to oil and gas, and the nomination itself is a "matter of corruption".

Meanwhile the Whitehouse said on a call with reporters that "We need rally points in our cause and this appointment ought to be a rally point.

“First for our groups and for young people, who feel that climate change is a vitally important issue. And it should be a rally point for some for our corporations who talk a very good game on climate ― but none of whom take serious action Congress.” (via Huffington Post)

Pruitt before a congressional committee on issues surrounding energy and the environment (via <a href=Ok.gov)" draggable="false">

Pruitt before a congressional committee on issues surrounding energy and the environment (via Ok.gov)

Ken Cook, head of the Environmental Working Group, laid it all out fairly clearly in a blog released on his agency's website:

The nation’s public health protection laws, including those in place to reduce pollution in our air, land and water, will be under withering assault with President-elect Donald Trump’s apparent pick of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to run the Environmental Protection Agency, said EWG President Ken Cook.

“Many of the counties and regions that voted for Mr. Trump have some of the dirtiest air and water in the country, and with Mr. Pruitt as head of the EPA, it will get even worse for those communities,” Cook said. “Nobody voted for dirty air and water – including the millions who supported Trump, but that’s what Americans will get under a Pruitt EPA.”

“There has been no bigger antagonist from the states against efforts to protect public health than Pruitt. He’s sued the EPA repeatedly over the agency’s efforts to reduce the number of children who are exposed to dangerous air pollutants that can diminish brain development or trigger asthma attacks, and he has targeted programs to protect vital drinking water sources for millions of people, mostly in rural areas of the country.”

“During the campaign, Mr. Trump regularly threatened to dismantle the EPA and roll back many of the gains made to reduce Americans’ exposures to industrial pollution, and with Pruitt, the President-elect would make good on those threats.”  

“It’s a safe assumption that Pruitt could be the most hostile EPA administrator toward clean air and safe drinking water in history,” Cook said. 

Pruit on President Obama’s Clean Power Plan:  National Review - May 17, 2016
Why should be concerned about Pruitt, here is a "Top 6" via the EWG" draggable="false">

Pruit on President Obama’s Clean Power Plan:  "This EPA regulation, one of the most ambitious ever proposed, will shutter coal-fired power plants, significantly increase the price of electricity for American consumers and enact by executive fiat the very same cap-and-trade system for carbon emissions that Congress has rejected." via National Review - May 17, 2016
Why should be concerned about Pruitt, here is a "Top 6" via the EWG

Why should be concerned about Pruitt, here is a "Top 6" via the EWG:

  1. Pruitt’s LinkedIn profile boasts that he “is a leading advocate against the EPA’s activist agenda.”
  2. Politico reported that for Pruitt’s 2014 re-election campaign, in which he ran unopposed, he raised $114,000 from energy company PACs and executives, including donations from ExxonMobil, Koch Industries, and oil and coal industry interests.
  3. As attorney general, in 2014 Pruitt sent a letter to the EPA claiming the agency had overestimated the amount of air pollution caused by drilling for natural gas. A New York Times investigation found that the letter was not actually written by Pruitt, but by lawyers for one of Oklahoma’s biggest oil and gas companies.
  4. In 2014, he sued the EPA over the agency’s cross-state pollution rule that seeks to curb the drift of industrial pollutants such as arsenic, mercury and other environmental toxins.
  5. In 2015, he sued the EPA again over the Obama Administration’s Clean Power Plan, which aims to reduce air pollution from coal-fired power plants. The EPA estimates that the plan would avoid 2,700 to 6,600 premature deaths and 140,000 to 150,000 asthma cases by 2030.
  6. Earlier this year, Pruitt co-authored a National Review op-ed questioning the “degree and extent of global warming and its connection to the actions of mankind.”
A Senate confirmation confrontation battle of sorts over this appointment is of course still to come, as several Democrat senators are on record to oppose the nomination, but realistically that is an uphill battle at best, as nominees can't be filibustered any more, and just a majority vote is need.

From here, we basically have to assume the EPA is a shell of its former self, and is dead to those of us who are looking for EV adoption to spread throughout the US as quickly as possible, and for power generation/oil production to get markedly cleaner (or even stay 'as is') over the next administration's term.

With that said, this appointment has started the first of some very ugly and high profile battles between the new administration and not only environmental groups, but also a very large portion of the US population - a group the President-Elect did not agitate to near this degree on the campaign trail, but now may well have underestimated the size and scope of...especially if Trump has hopes for a second term.

From here it will only gets worse in the short term, as one of the first targets on Pruitt's agenda once head of the EPA is likely to "harmonized standards" between his organization and CARB - the true holder of the key to EV adoption in the US.

Washington Post, New York TimesEnvironmental Working Group