Trump’s nominee to lead EPA a global warming skeptic; Hatch, Lee respond

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt | St. George News

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA (AP) — President-elect Donald Trump confirmed Thursday that he will nominate Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, a global warming skeptic, to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, which he has repeatedly sued and derided for pursuing an “activist agenda.”

“My administration strongly believes in environmental protection, and Scott Pruitt will be a powerful advocate for that mission while promoting jobs, safety and opportunity,” Trump said in an early morning statement.

Trump said Pruitt, 48, will restore the EPA’s “essential mission of keeping our air and our water clean and safe” while ensuring that the agency doesn’t spend tax money on an “out of control, anti-energy agenda.”

Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch Thursday issued the following statement on Pruitt’s nomination:

“I am extraordinarily pleased with President-elect Trump’s decision to nominate Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to serve as Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. For years, Scott has been the go-to leader in resisting the Obama EPA’s regulatory overreach. By standing up to unwarranted and unlawful policies, he has demonstrated rightful concern for Americans whose livelihoods and communities have suffered under intrusive, job-killing regulations. Under Scott’s leadership, I have confidence we can implement commonsense policies that protect both our environment and our economy.”

Pruitt, in a statement released by Trump’s transition team, said Americans “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.”

After word broke Wednesday of the expected pick, environmental groups took a strong stand against Pruitt, describing him as a puppet of polluters.

The Sierra Club said it was like “putting an arsonist in charge of fighting fires.”

Representatives of mining and oil interests cheered Trump’s choice.

“Scott Pruitt is a businessman and public servant and understands the impact regulation and legislation have in the business world,” said Jeffrey McDougall, an oilman who serves as chairman of the Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association. “His appointment will put rational and reasonable regulation at the forefront.”

Along with Hatch, Utah Sen. Mike Lee also expressed his support of Pruitt’s nomination:

“Attorney General Scott Pruitt has a proven conservative record and firm understanding of the Constitution. His work fighting the unconstitutional excess of both the Affordable Care Act and the Clean Power Plan shows he has exactly the leadership skills America needs to make the EPA serve all Americans. His qualifications for the office are settled science. I look forward to voting in favor of his confirmation.”

Though his academic degrees are in political science and law, Pruitt has been a vocal denier of the science showing that the planet is warming and that man-made carbon emissions are to blame.

In an opinion article published this year by National Review, Pruitt suggested that the debate over global warming “is far from settled” and claimed “scientists continue to disagree about the degree and extent of global warming and its connection to the actions of mankind.”

According to NASA, 97 percent of the world’s climate scientists agree that the planet is getting hotter and that burning fossil fuels is the primary cause. Ten of the warmest years in history have occurred in the past 12, with 2016 on pace to be the hottest recorded.

Studies show the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets have decreased in mass, while the world’s oceans have risen on average nearly 7 inches in the last century.

New York Sen. Chuck Schumer, set to become the Senate Democratic leader, said his party plans to press Pruitt with “tough questions” in his confirmation hearing.

“Attorney General Pruitt’s reluctance to accept the facts or science on climate change couldn’t make him any more out of touch with the American people — and with reality,” Schumer said.

GOP Sen. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, who shares Pruitt’s skepticism of climate science, praised Pruitt’s record of fighting back “against unconstitutional and overzealous environmental regulations.”

As attorney general since 2011, Pruitt has repeatedly sued the EPA. He joined with other Republican attorneys general in opposing the Clean Power Plan, which seeks to limit planet-warming carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants.

Pruitt has argued that curbing carbon emissions would trample the rights of states, drive up electricity rates, threaten the reliability of the nation’s power grid and “create economic havoc.”

He filed court briefs in support of the Keystone XL pipeline, blocked by the Obama administration. The project runs through his state. Pruitt also sued the EPA over the agency’s recent expansion of water bodies regulated under the federal Clean Water Act, which has been opposed by industries that would be forced to clean up polluted wastewater.

“Respect for private property rights have allowed our nation to thrive, but with the recently finalized rule, farmers, ranchers, developers, industry and individual property owners will now be subject to the unpredictable, unsound and often byzantine regulatory regime of the EPA,” Pruitt said last year.

Though Pruitt ran unopposed for a second term in 2014, campaign finance reports show he raised more than $700,000, with many of his top donors hailing from the energy and utility industries. Among those who gave the maximum contribution of $5,000 to Pruitt’s campaign was Continental Resources Chairman and CEO Harold Hamm, an Oklahoma oil tycoon who has been advising Trump.

Trump has called global warming a “hoax” and said he plans to abandon the U.S. commitment to reduce carbon emissions as part of the international agreement signed last year in Paris. During the campaign, the New York billionaire said he would like to abolish the EPA, or at least gut regulations he says impede corporate profits.

Environmental groups say they are girding up to defend the Obama administration’s environmental legacy in court.

“Scott Pruitt has built his political career by trying to undermine EPA’s mission of environmental protection,” said Fred Krupp, president of the Environmental Defense Fund. “He is a deeply troubling choice to head the agency that protects the clean air all Americans breathe and the clean water we drink.”

Written by MICHAEL BIESECKER and SEAN MURPHY, Associated Press. Associated Press writer Sean Murphy reported from Oklahoma City.

Statements from Sen. Orrin Hatch and Rep. Mike Lee were provided by their respective offices.

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Twitter: @STGnews

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  • Utahguns December 9, 2016 at 10:43 am

    Finally someone with common sense heading up the EPA….

  • r2d2 December 9, 2016 at 10:45 am

    It’s about time someone with a brain is put in charge. Is it the ice age from a few years ago or global warming. Maybe it’s just natural. But then no one would make any money off that.

  • Chris December 9, 2016 at 6:50 pm

    “His qualifications for the office are settled science.”??? What does that even mean? Mike Lee is an embarrassment and a complete fool. There is no such thing as “settled science.” Of course, Mike Lee, a man with no science background whatsoever, wouldn’t know. Scott Pruitt, also a man with no science background, would not know either. Lawyers talking about science–nothing dumber possible.

  • Henry December 9, 2016 at 8:20 pm

    An Associated Press “fake news” advocacy piece, masquerading as a news article.

  • Jeannette January 10, 2017 at 10:08 pm

    The Climate Debate in the United States
    Judith Curry
    The Global Warming Policy Foundation
    GWPF Briefing 18

    “4 Conclusions

    So how should we respond to the threat of climate change, given the uncertainties?
    There is increasing evidence that the threat from global warming is overstated. However, even if the threat is not overstated, there are major shortfalls in current and proposed solutions.
    I regard climate change as a wicked mess. A wicked mess is a complex problem with multiple dimensions and interrelated issues, with suboptimal solutions that create additional problems. My concern is that we have oversimplified both the climate change problem and its solutions. This oversimplification has undercut the political process and dialogue necessary for real solutions in a highly complex world and torqued scientific research through politicization and funding priorities. I am seeking to broaden the dialogue on both climate science and the policy solutions. I encourage you to join the dialogue at my blog Climate Etc., which provides a form for technical experts and the interested public to engage in a discussion on topics related to climate science, its impacts and policy options. I greatly appreciate the opportunity afforded to me by the GWPF to give this lecture, and I look forward to your questions.”

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