President-Elect Trump tapped Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to head the Environmental Protection Agency. As noted by the Washington Post, Pruitt is “the third of Trump’s nominees who have key philosophical differences with the missions of the agencies they have been tapped to run.”
However, the Post may have overstated their case in this instance. The President-Elect expressed hope that Pruitt will “restore the EPA’s essential mission of keeping our air and our water clean and safe.” Such a statement oversimplifies the agency’s role. Nonetheless, it reveals a consistent theme of the Trump campaign and nominations.
“Make America Great Again.” What’s the qualifier? Again. The new administration has not positioned itself as a revolution against the status quo. Rather, it is self-styled as a reformation to that which preceded the current political climate. Betsy DeVos wants to bring control of education back into private hands. Dr. Carson seeks to revert the social safety net programs and fair housing initiatives.
Scott Pruitt is similarly oriented. He aims to reduce, restrain, and reform the EPA into a less costly organization that operates within a more specific scope. In practice, this will mean the transfer of power from the EPA to state governments.
Some Congressional Democrats, specifically U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), substantially attributed November’s election results to the disillusionment that anti-fossil fuel activists created among blue-collar democrats in the Midwest. Scott Pruitt’s leadership will largely assuage these voters’ fears. However, many are curious to see to what extent moderate Democrats will choose to work with Pruitt.
Last May, Scott Pruitt (with Luther Strange) detailed his opposition to using criminal litigation to target groups who “dispute the science behind man-made global warming.” While criticizing the method of passage used for the Clean Power Plan, Pruitt strongly advocated open dialogue on the issues swirling around climate science.
The support and opposition to Pruitt’s nomination have been swift to vocalize their views, with strong opinions on both sides. However, we can be confident in Scott Pruitt’s commitment to two key issues: the reduction of regulatory excess and the promotion of open dialogue over climate science.