December 07, 2016 (Inside EPA)
Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt (R), who has brought a host of legal challenges to EPA climate, water and other rules, is said to be President-elect Trump’s choice to head EPA, multiple sources say.
Pruitt was seen entering Trump Tower in New York today, Dec. 7, for a second meeting with the president-elect, and an announcement is said to be imminent. But it is unclear whether Trump will announce his EPA administrator pick as a stand alone, or name his choices to lead the Department of Energy and the Department of Interior alongside his environment chief as has been expected and “would make sense,” one source notes.
However, two sources say that Trump gave Pruitt the nod for EPA chief on Dec. 4, and are unclear why an announcement has not already been made. One source says Pruitt was to be announced Dec. 6. “And yet, it’s now mid-day Wednesday [Dec. 7]. I think this is what the next four years are going to look like.”
Another cites the meeting with Trump today to note, “I assume the announcement will come shortly.”
Neither Trump’s transition team nor Pruitt’s spokesman could be reached for comment.
The Oklahoma attorney general was first publicly named as a possible contender Nov. 28, along with former Texas environment department chief Kathleen Hartnett White, who both met with Trump that day in New York. Local press reports noted that Pruitt is term limited as the top lawyer in the state.
Pruitt has long been a major thorn in the Obama EPA’s side, bringing or leading state challenges to a host of agency rules, including the power plant greenhouse gas rules, mercury air toxics rule, haze requirements, waters of the U.S. rule and others.
For example, he brought an unsuccessful suit in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit that sought to block EPA from finalizing its GHG rule for existing power plants, though he was among a number of state attorneys general who succeeded in winning a high court stay of the rule.
He has also been among a group of state attorneys general criticizing EPA efforts to craft a new facility safety rule.
Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), one of Pruitt’s home state senators and a long-time EPA critic, strongly endorsed the attorney general. “Every time we had a problem, you had our attorney general coming filing lawsuits, getting involved. He’s fought all the EPA stuff. He’d be great,” Inhofe told Politico this week, adding that he has spoken to people in the Trump transition about Pruitt.
But environmentalists and Senate Democrats would be expected to oppose his nomination. Environmental Defense Fund noted in a recent statement that “since becoming Oklahoma’s top legal officer in 2011, Pruitt has sued the EPA to stop vital protections for public health — including standards for reducing soot and smog pollution that crosses interstate lines; protections against emissions of mercury, arsenic, acid gases and other toxic pollutants from power plants; and standards to improve air quality in national parks and wilderness areas. Each time he failed.”
“These common-sense efforts to cut pollution will save lives, prevent dangerous brain-development issues in children, reduce asthma attacks and increase productivity. Yet, Attorney General Pruitt has apparently never seen an EPA rule that didn’t prompt him to run to court to have it blocked,” the group said.