If Donald Trump is trying to make good on his promise to dismantle the Environmental Protection Agency, he's picked the right man to get the job done.
Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt. Image: AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki
On Wednesday, Trump announced his pick of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to head up the EPA. A longtime foe of the Obama administration's climate change agenda, Pruitt's credentials include repeatedly suing the agency he is soon going to head, attempting to block pollution regulations aimed at safeguarding public health and questioning the overwhelming scientific consensus that global warming is real and man-made.
Trump has promised to repeal the Obama administration's signature climate change rules, including the Clean Power Plan, which stipulates that power plants cut their carbon emissions 30 per cent by 2030. Touted as the most aggressive climate action framework in American history, the Clean Power Plan is the only policy tool on the table that could put the United States on a path toward meeting its emissions reductions targets outlined in the Paris climate agreement. That, however, is probably of little concern to Trump, seeing as he's promised to drop the Paris agreement, too.
With Pruitt at the EPA's helm, Trump is likely to get his wish as far as rolling back Obama's climate agenda goes. The Clean Power Plan is currently in legal limbo, thanks to a 28-state lawsuit that Pruitt, along with Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, began laying the groundwork for in 2014. In a National Review article penned earlier this year, Pruitt described the Clean Power Plan as an illegal intervention that will send electricity prices soaring, adding that the debate on climate change is "far from settled".
Pruitt has also opened a lawsuit over the EPA's recently-announced regulation to curb oil and gas sector emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas. And his animosity toward environmental regulation extends far beyond climate change. According to the Environmental Defence Fund, Pruitt has used his position to attempt to block critical public health measures, including standards to reduce soot and smog pollution, and protections against mercury and arsenic emissions from power plants.
Pruitt, in other words, is a strong ally of the fossil fuel industry; a steadfast champion of its fight to burn the black gold like there's no tomorrow. A quick perusal of Pruitt's donor list helps explain why. Since 2002, he has received 285 contributions from fossil fuel interests totalling $US318,496 ($426,160).
Oh but hey, Trump had an "extremely interesting" conversation with Al Gore the other day.