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President-elect Donald Trump is due to announce “almost all” of his remaining Cabinet picks in the coming week, likely including his Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator. 

The nominee, who is subject to Senate confirmation, would oversee the 15,000-employee agency that writes and enforces regulations on air pollution, water pollution, climate change, land contamination and more.

{mosads}The EPA head would also be responsible for Trump’s aggressive deregulatory push.

On the campaign trail, Trump pledged to roll back all of President Obama’s climate agenda, including the Clean Power Plan, which limits carbon dioxide from power plants.

He said that the Clean Water Rule, known as the Waters of the United States rule, would be undone, and all existing regulations would be reviewed for potential changes or repeal.

Trump, though, also promised to support EPA actions that protect clean air and clean water, and to fight against drinking water contamination like what happened in Flint, Mich., cases that he called “real environmental challenges.”

Below are five candidates frequently mentioned as top contenders to replace current EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy.


Kathleen Hartnett White

White is one of the frontrunners for the EPA job, sources familiar with the transition said.

She is currently the director of the energy and environment center at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, and a former chairwoman of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality from 2001 to 2007.

White met with Trump in New York City on Nov. 25. She told the Houston Chronicle that Trump did not offer her the EPA job, but said she would “be hearing from them later.”

White, like Trump, disagrees with the scientific consensus that greenhouse gas emissions are causing the climate to change and has made it clear that the EPA should not regulate those emissions.

White has written that carbon dioxide, the most emitted greenhouse gas, is “the gas that makes life possible on the earth and naturally fertilizes plant growth,” and “whether emitted from the human use of fossil fuels or as a natural (and necessary) gas in the atmosphere surrounding the earth, carbon dioxide has none of the attributes of a pollutant.”

Like Trump, White also believes that fossil fuels like coal, oil and natural gas can be a driver of economic prosperity, and that idea is the focus of much of her recent scholarship.


Scott Pruitt

Pruitt, the Republican attorney general of Oklahoma, is seen as another top candidate. He is a former state senator and has been Oklahoma’s top lawyer since 2011. He also met with Trump on Nov. 25.

Pruitt has made a name for himself as a top challenger in the courts of President Obama’s environmental agenda.

He has sued the Obama EPA to stop regulations on carbon dioxide, ozone and mercury, the Clean Water Rule and more.

“This is an effort that I think is extraordinary in cost, extraordinary in scope and I think extraordinary as it relates to the intrusion into the sovereignty of the states,” Pruitt said recently of the Clean Power Plan, shortly before a federal court heard his and other states’ challenges against it.

“It’s an invasion of the state regulatory domain, and it’s something that is unique and breathtaking as it relates to the kind of rulemaking the EPA has engaged in historically.”

Pruitt also doubts the science of climate change, saying that the “debate is far from settled.”

He was central to a 2014 New York Times investigation that found that he sent a letter on air pollution to the EPA that was actually written by an energy company. The Times characterized it as part of a “secretive alliance” between conservative attorneys general and energy companies.


Jeff Holmstead

Holmstead led the EPA’s air pollution office under President George W. Bush and is being considered by the Trump transition team to lead the agency.

He currently works at the law and lobbying firm Bracewell, where he previously lobbied for numerous energy companies. Recently, though, he filed registration paperwork with Congress saying that he does not represent those companies anymore.

Holmstead would be a decidedly insider choice for Trump, someone with extensive experience at the EPA, a contrast to the outsider mentality Trump has projected.

His time at EPA gave Holmstead experience in environmental deregulatory efforts like streamlining permitting processes, which the Trump administration may try to learn from.


Donald Van der Vaart

Van der Vaart has occasionally been mentioned as a potential EPA leader, though sources say Trump and his team are not leaning toward him.

He is currently North Carolina’s top environmental regulator, and a frequent critic of Obama’s environmental agenda.

The week after Election Day, Van der Vaart and leaders of other environmental agencies in conservative states sent a letter to Trump with specific requests, including that he repeal the Clean Water Rule and give more power to the states to regulate pollution.

“Many environmental improvements have occurred since the EPA was created; however, in recent years the EPA has run out of control,” they wrote.

Van der Vaart has been tight-lipped about speculation he’s under consideration for the EPA.

“All I’ve been instructed to say is you need to ask the Trump campaign that question,” he said, when asked by the Carolina Journal


Myron Ebell

Ebell is one of the most outspoken climate change skeptics inside the Beltway and is leading Trump’s transition team efforts for the EPA. That’s led many to see him as a prime candidate to lead the agency.

Ebell leads the energy and environment efforts at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, which receives substantial fossil fuel funding. He has little experience in government.

But sources say Ebell is not high on the consideration list for the EPA, despite his job in the transition.

Nevertheless, Ebell’s beliefs and tactics often align with Trump’s on environmental policy.

Ebell, more so than many Republicans, is not afraid to make waves as a climate contrarian. He often refers to attempts to fight global warming as “climate alarmism.”

He called a bipartisan 2005 cap-and-trade bill “a shameless con game,” accused then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) of having “soft feelings for cuddly little critters” in reference to endangered species and has gone after Republicans seeking middle ground on climate change.

Tags Donald Trump Gina McCarthy
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