Donald Trump plans to nominate Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to head the Environmental Protection Agency — a pro-industry, anti-regulation pick that suggests big, big changes could be in store for environmental policy.
The EPA is in charge of creating and enforcing federal regulations around air and water pollution, largely guided by laws like the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act, which were first passed by Congress in the 1970s. Under President Barack Obama, the EPA has been particularly active in formulating new rules on coal-fired power plants, cars, trucks, and oil and gas operations — all with an eye toward reducing conventional air pollutants and curbing the greenhouse gases that cause climate change.
Pruitt has been an ardent opponent of these efforts for years. He calls himself the “leading advocate against the EPA’s activist agenda” and has long insisted that states can often regulate pollution better than the federal government can.
Ever since becoming Oklahoma’s top prosecutor in 2011, Pruitt has joined or led state lawsuits to block virtually every major federal regulation around climate and air pollution that Obama’s EPA has put forward. He sued to stop a major rule to limit mercury pollution from coal plants. He sued to stop a rule to reduce smog pollution that crossed state lines. (Both rules largely survived these challenges.)
At the moment, Pruitt is part of a lawsuit to block the EPA’s efforts to address global warming via the Clean Power Plan — which aims to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. Pruitt has also questioned and misrepresented the science of climate change. In a piece for National Review last May, he wrote: “Scientists continue to disagree about the degree and extent of global warming and its connection to the actions of mankind.” (That is not really true.)
But Hillary Clinton refused to say that she would unilaterally pass a constitutional amendment banning fracking, so fundamentally I’d say Both Sides Do It.
Of the many horrible things a Trump administration will bring us, some are uniquely Trump and many more will be just Republican. This is the latter.