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Pruitt's EPA Nomination Likely to Result in Senate Battle
USAgNet - 12/09/2016

Democrats and conservation groups are laying the groundwork to battle President-elect Donald Trump's selection of a staunch oil industry ally and chief foe of the Obama administration's climate agenda to lead the Environmental Protection Agency. The nomination of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt is "a full-fledged environmental emergency," said Senator Brian Schatz, a Democrat from Hawaii, who pledged to make the issue a litmus test for every senator who has said they do not deny the science of climate change. "This is a four-alarm fire, and we are going to do everything we can to stop his nomination."

Bloomberg News reports that the nomination of Pruitt, who has sued the EPA to overturn some of President Barack Obama's signature initiatives, is a major victory for oil, gas and coal companies that have complained about a heavy hand at the agency. Pruitt relishes his role as its chief antagonist; an official biography on the 48-year-old Republican's website proclaims him "a leading advocate against the EPA's activist agenda."

Trump announced the Pruitt nomination on Wednesday as he nears decisions on other cabinet posts that play a critical role on energy and environmental policy. Former Texas Governor Rick Perry and Senator Heidi Heitkamp, a Democrat from North Dakota facing a tough reelection campaign, are said to be considered as potential energy secretaries; Trump has met with Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin and Representative Cynthia Lummis, a Republican from Wyoming for the Interior Department post.

If confirmed, Pruitt will mark the beginning of a rollback of the Obama administration's "march to centralize energy regulation in Washington," Senator Mike Lee, a Republican from Utah, said Thursday. "He's spent years being ignored and pushed around by Washington, so he knows the dangerous bureaucratic mindset he's up against," Lee said during a presentation at Heritage Foundation and Texas Public Policy Foundation energy summit. "I'm confident he will not shy away from the battle" and will be "reminding EPA regulators their job is to work with -- not condescend to -- the states."

The EPA has played a pivotal rule in carrying out key parts of Obama's agenda, especially fighting climate change. Pruitt has pushed back, battling a suite of the agency's rules in court, including a regulation slashing greenhouse gas emissions from power plants, a water pollution measure and the agency's conclusion that carbon dioxide is a pollutant endangering public health and welfare.

He also filed the first lawsuit challenging the implementation of Obama's health-care law.

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