Memos & Research

EPA Administrator Nominee Scott Pruitt: Climate Denier and Fossil Fuel Industry Shill

Dec 7, 2016

Scott Pruitt, who Trump has nominated for the position of EPA Administrator, has proven himself to be no more than a shill for the oil and gas industry in office and climate denier. As Oklahoma Attorney General, he’s done the industry’s bidding by suing the EPA on numerous occasions over commonsense safeguards to protect public health, like the Clean Water Rule and Clean Power Plan. Pruitt’s positions are literally copied and pasted from fossil fuel interests — he’s sent letters to Federal officials that were almost entirely written by oil and gas lobbyists. Pruitt’s made it his career goal to protect fossil fuel industry profits — he has no place running the EPA.

Pruitt: Climate Denier

This past March, a coalition of attorneys general came together to announce a joint effort to combat climate change, and to investigate whether fossil fuel companies “misled investors and the public on the impact of climate change on their businesses.” In response, Pruitt, along with Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange, stated their opposition to this effort, saying, “Reasonable minds can disagree about the science behind global warming, and disagree they do. This scientific and political debate is healthy, and it should be encouraged. It should not be silenced with threats of criminal prosecution by those who believe that their position is the only correct one and that all dissenting voices must therefore be intimidated and coerced into silence.”

In May, Pruitt wrote an op-ed in which he said that the debate around climate science is “far from settled,” adding that “scientists continue to disagree about the degree and extent of global warming and its connection to the actions of mankind.”

Pruitt: Fossil Fuel Industry Shill

As Oklahoma’s attorney general, Pruitt wrote to the EPA, accusing the agency of “grossly overestimating the amount of air pollution caused by energy companies drilling new natural gas wells in his state.” As it turns out, the letter was actually written by “Devon Energy, one of Oklahoma’s biggest oil and gas companies, and was delivered to him by Devon’s chief of lobbying … Mr. Pruitt took the letter and, after changing just 37 words in the 1,016-word draft, copied it onto his state government letterhead and sent it to Ms. Jackson, the E.P.A. administrator.” In fact, Pruitt’s letter was indicative of “the unprecedented, secretive alliance that Mr. Pruitt and other Republican attorneys general have formed with some of the nation’s top energy producers to push back against the Obama regulatory agenda.”

Perhaps most troubling, though, is the fact that Pruitt has cozied up to the very industries he’s supposed to regulate in order to fortify the legal assault on the Obama administration’s environmental regulations. Shortly before Pruitt and other attorneys general filed suit against the Clean Power Plan, they “met privately— for a handsome fee — with energy companies Murray Energy and Southern Company, which are also suing to halt the plan’s implementation. The timing of the secret meetings and financial contributions reveal what appears to be a well-coordinated effort to hobble the Obama administration’s climate policy agenda.” It’s not shocking, then, that the fossil fuel industry has rewarded him handsomely by contributing more than $300,000 to his campaigns since 2002.

One of Pruitt’s closest partners is Harold Hamm, a billionaire oil magnate who is on Donald Trump’s short list to be his energy secretary. In 2014, Pruitt “joined with a group aligned with Mr. Hamm to sue the Interior Department over its plan to consider adding animals such as the lesser prairie chicken to the endangered species list, a move that Mr. Hamm has said could knock out ‘some of the most promising land for oil and gas leases in the country.’” Scholars, as well as previous attorneys general, criticize this union as an unprecedented threat to the integrity of the office.

Pruitt: Led Efforts to Fight the EPA’s Clean Power Plan & Has Tried to Block Other Critical Air & Water Safeguards

In June 2014, the EPA first announced the Clean Power Plan, the first national attempt to reduce carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants, and ultimately combat the effects of climate change and protect public health. Just two months later, Pruitt led a group of eleven attorneys general and filed suit against the agency, claiming that the government was illegally picking “winners and losers in the energy sector” by closing power plants and increasing Americans’ energy costs, and seeking to silence those who disagreed.  In reality, the Clean Power Plan will provides benefits to the American people by protecting the health of our families and creating jobs, while making homes and business more energy efficient. The rule’s built-in flexibility allows states to implement a plan that best fits its needs.

Pruitt’s legal assaults don’t stop at the Clean Power Plan. Since assuming the role of Oklahoma’s Attorney General in 2011, Pruitt has also sued the EPA to block commonsense protections that are critical for clean air, clean water and our health, including the Clean Water Rule, limits on mercury and other toxic pollution from power plants, soot and smog that crosses state lines and has serious health consequences for communities living downwind, and even improving air quality in our national parks.