Scott Pruitt, Oklahoma’s state attorney general and Donald Trump’s pick to lead the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), faces the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Wednesday.
Not surprisingly, Pruitt has faced sharp opposition from environmentalists and their allies on the Senate committee. Here are some key things you need to know about Pruitt and his policy views:
- Before his election as attorney general in 2010, Pruitt served in the state senate for eight years from 1998 to 2006. Prior to politics he worked as a lawyer in private practice.
- Pruitt has said he believes, like many other people in the Republican Party including the President-Elect, that the EPA under President Obama has wildly exceeded its authority as a regulatory body. The job of a regulator, Pruitt said in his opening statement to the committee, is to “make things regular,” and “should not be for or against any sector of the economy,” be it fossil fuels or renewables.
- He has filed 14 lawsuits against the EPA (some of which are ongoing) during his time as Oklahoma state attorney general and broadly opposed EPA air quality and other environmental efforts across the country. In 2014, for example, Pruitt joined 20 other state attorneys general in an amicus brief opposing a cleanup of Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay — 1,400 miles from his home state.
- Pruitt has more than once sent letters to the EPA on official attorney general letterhead that were written by oil companies. (Senators Jeff Merkley and Cory Booker have raised these letters in the hearings.)
- He acknowledges that the climate is changing and that humans play some role in it, he said in his opening statement, but maintains that the details, severity, and consequences of climate change are “up for debate.”