Environmentalists who thought Donald Trump's meeting with Al Gore might signal a more moderate environmental policy had those hopes crushed Wednesday with the news that Trump wants Oklahoma's attorney general to head the Environmental Protection Agency. Scott Pruitt, whose official biography calls him "a leading advocate against the EPA's activist agenda," is a firm ally of fossil fuel interests and is one of the attorneys general currently suing the EPA over the Obama administration's greenhouse-gas emissions policies, NPR reports. The New York Times reports that Pruitt is so cozy with oil and gas interests that in 2014, energy lobbyists drafted letters for him to send to the EPA and other federal agencies.
Pruitt, a climate skeptic, has long portrayed himself as a defender of states' rights against federal overreach. Oklahoma's Sen. Jim Inhofe praised Pruitt as somebody who has shown "being a good steward of the environment does not mean burdening taxpayers and businesses with red tape," while environmental groups reacted with dismay, the Oklahoman reports. Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club, said having Pruitt in charge of the EPA "is like putting an arsonist in charge of fighting fires." Ken Cook, head of the Environmental Working Group advocacy organization, tells the Times that the appointment suggests Trump plans to make good on his threats to dismantle the EPA. He adds: "It's a safe assumption that Pruitt could be the most hostile EPA administrator toward clean air and safe drinking water in history."