Hannah Jordan, Staff Writer
Wednesday December 7th, then president-elect Donald J. Trump cast his nomination for the new head of the Environmental Protection Agency. Scott Pruitt, a Kentucky-born Republican, has served as Oklahoma attorney general since 2010; he will now retire from Attorney General to serve in Donald Trump’s administration, heralding a new era following Obama’s progressive EPA campaigns.
This isn’t Pruitt’s first run in with the EPA. He decided to take the agency head on starting in 2014. Stating that “scientists continue to disagree about the degree and extent of global warming and its connection to the actions of mankind,” Pruitt highlights his evident climate change skepticism. Pruitt’s office sued the EPA to block its Clean Power Plan and Waters of the United States law. Notably, the Attorney General has brought over half a dozen cases against EPA anti-pollution programs alone. Pruitt has also sued the EPA on behalf of Oklahoma utilities, unwilling to take on the burdens of additional regulation of their coal-fired plants, and openly criticized these regulations and the EPA as a whole in a congressional hearing in 2014. As of June 2014, all of Pruitt’s 14 lawsuits against the Environmental Protection Agency had failed.
Pruitt didn’t begin his career with a focus on the environment. Graduating with a bachelor’s degree in political science and communications from Georgetown College in Kentucky, Pruitt moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma where he attended the University of Tulsa to earn a Juris Doctor in 1993. After five years as an attorney for a private practice, in 1998 Pruitt was elected to the Oklahoma Senate. After passing two years in the Senate, Pruitt was selected to serve as the Republican whip from 2001 to 2003. He was then selected to serve as the Republican Assistant Floor Leader, a position he held until he left the Senate in 2006. In 2010 Pruitt ran for the office of Oklahoma Attorney General, securing his position with a majority vote of 56% over Jim Priest. For the first few years, Pruitt held a relatively quiet office. In 2013, Pruitt began allotting a majority of his time as Attorney General actively fighting against same-sex marriage rights; he would continue to actively lobby against the recognition of same-sex rights until early 2015. In the latter half of 2014, however, Pruitt and his office decided to aggressively take on the EPA- the agency which he is now nominated to lead.
The nomination is still under review- the final hearings are to be held by the members of the Environment and Public Works Committee, then to be referred to the full (Republican majority) Senate for a vote in the upcoming weeks. Despite any hearings in the weeks to come, Donald Trump’s nomination of Pruitt alone has created a sense of unease in not just the scientific community, but in the world at large.
“We can leave a little bit [of the environment], but you can’t destroy businesses.” -President Donald Trump