Oklahoma AG reported to be on tap for EPA post

News outlets, including the New York Times and Washington Post, are reporting that President-elect Donald Trump has selected Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt as his choice to head the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

As attorney general, Pruitt has been active in the multi-state legal challenge to the EPA Clean Power Plan, which would have states draft plans to cut power sector carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions 32% by 2030.

Pruitt has also testified before Congress and said that Oklahoma, which is a growing producer of wind power, has already suffered ratepayer impact from the EPA “haze rule.”

His apparent selection was immediately attacked by the Sierra Club.

“Having Scott Pruitt in charge of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is like putting an arsonist in charge of fighting fires,” said Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune.

“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,” the Sierra Club official went on to say.

A leading electric power lobbyist took a different view however.

“Some have suggested that Pruitt hands might be tied because he participated in litigation against the Agency. This is a silly position,” said Scott Segal, a lobbyist at the Bracewell law firm.

“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,” Segal said Dec. 7. “Further, [current EPA administrator] Gina McCarthy herself sued the EPA as a Massachusetts state official only to eventually lead the Agency herself.  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 added.

One of Segal’s colleagues, Bracewell law partner Jeff Holmstead, who served as a deputy administrator at EPA during the George W. Bush administration, has also been rumored to be under consideration to be the EPA chief.

About Wayne Barber 4201 Articles
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at wayneb@pennwell.com.