Donald Trump has picked Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to lead the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) during his administration.
The Sierra Club, at 124 years old, is one of the most venerable environmental groups in the US. On Wednesday, the group released a statement calling Pruitt unfit to serve as EPA Administrator, and comparing the choice to “putting an arsonist in charge of fighting fires.”
Pruitt, 48, has served as Attorney General for Oklahoma since 2011. In that time he’s stood out among state-level politicians for his sharp opposition to EPA regulations — a position cited as a badge of honour on his official biography on his office’s website.
He is part of a lawsuit designed to tear up the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, a signature Obama administration effort to combat greenhouse gas emissions.
He’s also part of a state administration that has taken a favourable stance toward fossil fuel extractors. During his five-year tenure as Oklahoma attorney general, a method of oil extraction that involves pumping saltwater into the ground became much more common in the state. The result was a sharp increase in earthquakes.
Pruitt does not seem to have a background in the sort of environmental issues that will reach his desk if he’s confirmed by the Senate. Before his term as State Attorney General, he served eight years in the Oklahoma State Senate, where, according to his official biography, he focused on “fiscal responsibility, religious freedom and pro-life issues.”
Here’s the statement from the Sierra Club, titled “Scott Pruit is unfit to serve as EPA Administrator”:
Having Scott Pruitt in charge of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is like putting an arsonist in charge of fighting fires. He is a climate science denier who, as Attorney General for the state of Oklahoma, regularly conspired with the fossil fuel industry to attack EPA protections.
Nothing less than our children’s health is at stake. Scott Pruitt, whose own bio describes him as ‘a leading advocate against the EPA’s activist agenda‘ cannot be trusted to head the EPA, an agency charged with protecting all Americans from threats to their water, air, and health. We strongly urge Senators, who are elected to represent and protect the American people, to stand up for families across the nation and oppose this nomination.