Trump’s EPA Nominee Is One of America’s Most Anti-Environment Politicans
By Paul Bland
This post originally appeared on DailyKos, and is republished here with permission.
Following his claim that climate change was a hoax invented by the Chinese, and his promises to “bring back coal,” many have wondered how President-elect Trump might approach environmental regulations and, specifically, who he might nominate to head the Environmental Protection Agency.
Today, we got an answer. The President-elect has selected Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt – a close ally of the oil and gas industry – to head up the agency.
The nomination signals that Trump has no intention of making America’s air, water or environment great again. In fact, Pruitt’s record in Oklahoma has – quite literally – shaken the state to its core. The state continues to be rocked by swarms of earthquakes of ever-increasing severity that have been unleashed by the oil and gas industry’s fracking operations.
While Oklahomans were cleaning up the damage caused by those quakes, Pruitt was developing an ever-closer relationship with the industry responsible for the growing damage. The New York Times recently published 84 pages of documents between Pruitt and lawyers for Devon Energy that, the paper said, show an “unprecedented, secretive alliance that Mr. Pruitt and other Republican attorneys general have formed with some of the nation’s top energy producers to push back against” environmental laws and regulations.
Yet, there’s been no alliance with scientists, seismologists, geologists or the people of Oklahoma to try and stop the quakes or end fracking in the state. When state officials, including Pruitt, refused to take action, Public Justice stepped in, filing a first-of-its-kind suit to stop the damage and force the oil and gas industry to clean up its act.
But while Pruitt might not be willing to sue to stop the worst actions of the oil industry, he has been more than willing to sue the agency he’s now being asked to direct. In fact, Pruitt has sued the EPA so many times that local advocates, like the Oklahoma Chapter of The Sierra Club, have almost lost count of the number of times the Attorney General has taken the agency to court. According to NPR’s State Impact news service, “Pruitt has [even] sued EPA for being sued — by environmental groups like the Sierra Club.”
So far, however, he hasn’t won a single case. But undeterred by his impressive run of losses, Pruitt practically brags about how much he hates the agency he’s been nominated to lead, saying in his online bio that he is “a leading advocate against the EPA’s activist agenda.”
As his home state endured a record number of earthquakes in recent years – including a 5.6 quake in September that ranks as the largest man-made earthquake in history – Pruitt was busy filling his campaign coffers with money from oil and gas lobbyists. He has brought in $325,000 from the sector so far, and Harold G. Hamm, chief executive of Continental Energy, an oil and gas company that has been fracking in Oklahoma, was a co-chairman of the Attorney General’s 2013 re-election campaign.
Meanwhile, Oklahomans are largely left to repair their houses and property at their own expense.
Unfortunately, the selection of Pruitt fits into a larger, troubling pattern: President-elect Trump has nominated a Health & Human Services Secretary who wants to take healthcare away from 22 million Americans and an Education Secretary who prioritizes private and charter schools ahead of the public education system. With this latest appointment, Trump has chosen yet another nominee who seems hell bent on dismantling, rather than managing, the agency he’s been asked to run.
That’s bad news for anyone who values clean air or water. And, to paraphrase Trump himself, there’s not much else to say except . . . “Sad!”