The nomination of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to the post of administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency is a positive sign that the Trump administration will respect state’s rights, according to a number of Republican lawmakers speaking at an event hosted Thursday by the Heritage Foundation. “This is a man who understands federalism and separation of powers and has been a warrior, a champion, to help restore those things,” Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) said of Pruitt. “He’s a smart man, he’s a wise man, and most importantly, he knows the dangers of consolidated power.”
“I’m confident that he’s not going to shy away from the battle, from the task of shaking things up and moving things forward in Washington and reminding EPA regulators that their job is to work with, not condescend to, the states and those they regulate,” Lee added.
President-elect Donald Trump announced Pruitt’s appointment on Wednesday, and Democratic lawmakers quickly swore to do all they could to stop him from being confirmed. “Mr. Pruitt’s record is not only that of being a climate change denier, but also someone who has worked closely with the fossil fuel industry to make this country more dependent, not less, on fossil fuels. The American people must demand leaders who are willing to transform our energy system away from fossil fuels. I will vigorously oppose this nomination,” Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said in a release.
As Oklahoma’s attorney general, Pruitt has sued the EPA a number of times in efforts to halt environmental regulations. He is currently representing the state in a federal lawsuit in which 27 states and a number of allied groups seek to eliminate the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, carbon emission standards for existing coal-fired power plants. The rule requires states to develop action plans to reach federally set emissions reduction targets.
A 10-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit heard oral arguments in the lawsuit in late September, and a judgment is expected later this year or in early 2017.
“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 in a Thursday morning statement formally announcing Pruitt’s selection. “As my EPA Administrator, Scott Pruitt, the highly respected Attorney General from the state of Oklahoma, will reverse this trend and restore the EPA’s essential mission of keeping our air and our water clean and safe.”
The very things that Pruitt has been criticized for by Democrats and environmentalists are among his greatest attributes, according to the Republicans speaking Thursday at the Heritage Foundation. “It’s really not about the science. In terms of the policy we should pursue the science, OK, but from where we sit, it’s really about the process,” Rep. Gary Palmer (R-Ala.) said.
Pruitt is also a climate change skeptic. “Scientists continue to disagree about the degree and extent of global warming and its connection to the actions of mankind,” he wrote in a May editorial in the National Review.
There is scientific consensus on the existence of climate change. “Multiple studies published in peer-reviewed scientific journals show that 97 percent or more of actively publishing climate scientists agree: Climate-warming trends over the past century are extremely likely due to human activities,” NASA has pointed out.