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Environment

Trump names EPA administrator

Pruitt has opposed expansion of agency’s chemical safety program

by Randy Lee Loftis
December 8, 2016

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Credit: Oklahoma Attorney General’s Office
Scott Pruitt
Credit: Oklahoma Attorney General’s Office
Scott Pruitt

By picking Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, President-elect Donald J. Trump signaled a hard-right turn away from federal action against climate change and regulation.

Pruitt has opposed EPA limits on carbon dioxide, a key greenhouse gas, from power plants. In addition, Pruitt has objected to the agency’s attempt to tighten requirements aimed at preventing chemical plant accidents, the Risk Management Program.

Pruitt has sued EPA to block rules on a range of other issues, including airborne toxics, pollution-induced haze in national parks and the interstate transport of smog-causing emissions.

But it is climate change that has propelled Pruitt, a Republican former state senator elected as Oklahoma’s chief lawyer in 2010, into the national spotlight.

Pruitt has led efforts by states to overturn the Clean Power Plan, the Obama Administration’s signature program to limit emissions of CO2. The plan is the main means for the U.S. to meet its pledges under the Paris Agreement, the 2015 international pact to curb human-caused climate change.

In their challenges, opponents have targeted the plan’s details, especially whether it is allowed under the Clean Air Act. That question is still before the federal courts.

The New York Times reported last year that Pruitt was among the initial planners of a nationwide attack on the plan, along with Texas officials, coal industry lobbyists and the American Legislative Exchange Council, a conservative policy group.

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