President-Elect Donald Trump’s pick to head the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been involved in numerous lawsuits against the agency over the years, pushing back against regulations.
Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt has challenged the EPA numerous times, largely centering on federalism issues — making sure the agency stays within the bounds of federal law and respects state’s rights.
Most recently, Pruitt’s joined dozens of states challenging two major EPA regulation: the Clean Power Plan (CPP) and the Clean Water Rule (CWR).
The CPP is the Obama administration’s signature global warming, which requires states to cut carbon dioxide emissions at power plants.
Pruitt joined 27 other states in challenging the rule in court, calling the CPP an “unlawful attempt to expand federal bureaucrats’ authority over states’ energy economies in order to shutter coal-fired power plants and eventually other sources of fossil-fuel generated electricity.”
More than 200 members of Congress filed a brief against the CPP and so have dozens of business groups and labor unions. Only 18 states sided with the EPA.
EPA and state lawyers made oral arguments for and against the CPP in September and a decision should be issued in the coming months. The Supreme Court issued a stay against the rule in February.
In 2015, Pruitt joined 26 other states in suing EPA to get rid of the CWR, or “waters of the United States” rule. EPA said the CRW would provide greater clarity over federal control of waterways, but the rule expanded federal power too far for most states. Federal judges issued a stay against the CRW in October 2015.
“Respect for private property rights have allowed our nation to thrive, but with the recently finalized rule, farmers, ranchers, developers, industry and individual property owners will now be subject to the unpredictable, unsound, and often byzantine regulatory regime of the EPA,” Pruitt said of the rule.
Pruitt has also sued to block EPA regulations on mercury emissions, regional haze and even for record under the Freedom of Information Act.
“Some have suggested that Pruitt hands might be tied because he participated in litigation against the Agency,” Scott Segal, an energy lobbyist at Bracewell, said in a statement.
“This is a silly position,” he said. “When you add up all the states that have participated in litigation on the Clean Power Plan alone, it amounts to almost the entire United States.”
Current EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy sued the agency while a state official in Massachusetts — that apparently didn’t stop her from eventually heading EPA.
“There is no conflict in representing your state on litigation dealing with rules of general applicability and then serving your nation as a federal official,” Segal said.
Liberal critics of Pruitt are fuming over his skepticism of man-made global warming and they’ve labeled him an “ally” of fossil fuel interests.
The New York Times editorial board said “Mr. Pruitt has tended to the interests of the oil and gas industries” alleging he created a “secretive alliance” with energy firms to attack EPA.
“Pruitt is a climate science denier who, as AG for Oklahoma, regularly conspired with the fossil fuel industry to attack EPA safeguards,” the Sierra Club tweeted out Wednesday.
A former adviser to President Obama, Dan Pfeiffer, even called Pruitt “an existential threat to the planet.”
Liberals fear Pruitt will help Trump roll back EPA regulations targeting U.S. energy production.
Pruitt will almost certainly roll back the very regulations he’s sued the EPA to stop from becoming law.
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