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Oklahoma Attorney General Picked to Run EPA

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, who has led legal challenges to the Obama administration’s “waters of the United States rule” and greenhouse gas regulations, has been tapped by President-elect Donald Trump to run the Environmental Protection Agency. 

Pruitt, who met with Trump in New York on Wednesday, is also a critic of the Renewable Fuel Standard, having filed arguments against it, and he cheered EPA actions that reduced statutory targets for biofuel usage. He called the RFS a “flawed program.”

Senate Environment and Public Works Chairman Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., told Agri-Pulse he was thrilled that Trump picked Pruitt. Inhofe said he talks to Pruitt on a weekly basis and described him as “one of my closest friends.” Said Inhofe, “He's been my best friend on all these overregulations."

In addition to lawsuits against the WOTUS rule and Clean Power Plans, Pruitt has also filed challenges to the Affordable Care Act and the Dodd-Frank law, under which the administration has implemented new regulations on the futures market. Pruitt, who was first elected attorney general in 2010, established a “federalism unit” in the state solicitor general’s office to challenge regulations. 

Pruitt’s Linkedin profile describes him as a “national leader in the cause to restore the proper balance of power between the states and federal government.” 

In 2013, Pruitt, who has been open about his support for the state’s oil and gas industry, filed a “friend of the court brief” in a lawsuit against EPA over the RFS, arguing that using corn for ethanol increased food prices, and that the biofuel posed a risk to automobile engines. “The evidence is clear that the current ethanol fuel mandate is unworkable,” Pruitt said. 

Pruitt also has questioned the Obama administration’s scientific and legal basis for attacking climate change and said that the administration should have sought amendments to the Clean Air Act to give the EPA clearer authority to regulate greenhouse gases. “Scientists continue to disagree about the degree and extent of global warming and its connection to the actions of mankind,” he wrote in a joint op-ed with Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange. 

Dan Pfeiffer, a former adviser to President Obama, posted on his Twitter account that Pruitt was “an existential threat to the planet.” 

But Inhofe said he didn’t expect Pruitt to have problems getting confirmed in the Senate. 

The Oklahoma Farm Bureau issued a statement calling Pruitt’s selection to run EPA “a win for farmers and ranchers across the country. As Oklahoma attorney general, Pruitt has been a staunch advocate of agriculture and Oklahoma Farm Bureau. He continuously has defended farmers and ranchers against the EPA and has led the charge in suing the agency over its burdensome regulations such as the Waters of the United States rule and the Clean Power Plan.”

This story was written by Philip Brasher for Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

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