Trump announces selection of EPA antagonist to lead agency

Trump announces selection of EPA antagonist to lead agency
© Greg Nash

President-elect Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden, Sanders lead field in Iowa poll The Memo: Cohen fans flames around Trump Memo Comey used to brief Trump on dossier released: report MORE confirmed Thursday morning that he has chosen Oklahoma’s Republican attorney general, Scott Pruitt, a frequent antagonist of the Environmental Protection Agency, to lead the agency.

Calling him “one of the country’s top attorneys general,” Trump said in a statement that Pruitt would carry out his mission of cracking down on what he sees as a job-killing, anti-energy agenda at the EPA while ensuring that the agency protects the nation’s clean air and water. 

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“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.

“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,” he continued.

Trump and Pruitt agree with the need to “rescind all job-destroying executive actions,” they said in the statement.

Transition team officials started leaking the news Wednesday that Pruitt would be Trump’s EPA pick.

Pruitt has sued President Obama’s EPA over nearly every major regulation and has led the fight among Republican attorneys general against rules like the Clean Power Plan and the Clean Water Rule, two of Trump’s top targets for repeal.

Pruitt is a close ally of the oil and natural gas industries and doubts the science of climate change, despite an overwhelming consensus of scientists who say human-induced greenhouse gases are the main cause of climate change.

Trump’s pick immediately came under fire from Democrats and environmentalists, who warned that Pruitt’s antagonism toward fighting climate change and Obama’s green agenda is a huge risk to the planet.

“This is the worst-case scenario when it comes to clean air and clean water, to nominate a climate denier to the agency charged with protecting our natural resources,” Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) said, echoing the views of numerous Democrats who plan to try to block Pruitt’s confirmation.

Kellyanne Conway, a top aide to Trump, dismissed the criticism Wednesday evening.

“We’re very accustomed to the naysayers and the critics,” she told pool reporters in the Trump Tower lobby in New York City.

“Attorney General Pruitt has great qualifications and a good record as AG of Oklahoma, and there were a number of qualified candidates for that particular position that the president-elect interviewed,” she said. “We look forward to the confirmation hearings.”

In Trump’s statement, Pruitt said he is “deeply grateful and honored” to be the president-elect’s EPA pick.

“The American people 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,” he said.