President-elect Donald Trump has nominated Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to serve as administrator of the U.S. EPA. Pruitt, has a long history of working to protect the interests of oil, gas, and utility companies as detailed by DeSmogBlog, and was a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).
“The head of the EPA cannot be a stenographer for the lobbyists of polluters and Big Oil,” House of Representatives Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said of Pruitt.
In 2015, Pruitt filed suit against the EPA over the Clean Power Plan, the regulation that would curb carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. Assisting Pruitt were attorneys from BakerHostetler, one the nation’s largest law firms.
Two of the BakerHostetler attorneys joining Pruitt, David B. Rivkin Jr. and Andrew M. Grossman, recently established the Free Speech in Science Project to defend companies and groups over their climate science denial. The group arose shortly after investigations began into ExxonMobil’s knowledge and actions relating to climate change. A few months after the group launched, Pruitt signed a letter, along with other Republican attorneys general, to counter the climate fraud investigations of fossil fuel companies.
Earlier in his career, when he was a state representative, Pruitt was a member of ALEC and a task force chair. In 2003, he said in an interview:
ALEC is unique in the sense that it puts legislators and companies together and they create policy collectively.” In Pruitt’s opinion, the regular legislative process doesn’t allow for enough time listening to business. “The actual stakeholders who are affected by policy aren’t at the table as much as they should be … Serving with them is very beneficial, in my opinion.”
ALEC connects lawmakers with corporate lobbyists to produces model bills that are then introduced in legislatures across the country. Model bills can be brought to ALEC by the lobbyists themselves, which has led some to describe this organization as a “corporate bill mill.” In fact, in December 2015, ALEC brought together state legislators to develop a model bill that would dismantle the Clean Power Plan, and featured a speaker who said, “Carbon dioxide is not a pollutant. It is a benefit. It is the very elixir of life.”
Transcript of some of the Pruitt ALEC speech: “This body called the EPA, this agency called the EPA, what is their role? What is their objective? Is it to pick winners and losers in the energy context? Is it to say renewables are good and fossil fuels are bad? So we’re going to use are regulatory power to penalize fossil fuels and to elevate other types of energy? …
This EPA and all the agencies associated with it, they’re trying to make electricity so costly that they are forcing conservation, for you to use less across this country or pay an exorbitant price. That’s what this country is facing in the years ahead …
Do you know under the know under the Clean Water Act that the EPA has no jurisdictional authority over hydraulic fracturing unless the frac fluid that is used in the extraction process has diesel in it? But despite that. FracFocus is something industry publishes and the fluids they use and if there’s no diesel EPA has no authority. But despite that what is the EPA doing today? They’re engaged in a study to do just what I mentioned, regulate and overtake the regulation of hydraulic fracturing at the state level. Either displace it or duplicate it to make it so time consuming that it affects production across this country. That’s picking winners and losers …
Beyond the regional haze case, we have something on the horizon something more troubling. And that’s the proposed rule under 111(d) with respect to CO2 regulation. We have an EPA that is engaged in rulemaking, proposed rulemaking, that seeks to exert itself in a way that the statute doesn’t authorize at all …
Again, another example that the EPA taking a statute and saying we’ll improve or fix or take a different approach than authorized by Congress.”
Pruitt was also part of another session at that year’s event, specifically about the EPA. According to the Center for Media and Democracy, “In keeping with ALEC’s longtime denial of both the science and solutions to climate change, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, a Republican, spoke about proposed Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) limits on carbon pollution. That session was sponsored by the world’s largest publicly owned coal company, Peabody Energy, and the trade association for the coal industry, the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE), of which Peabody is a member.”
In addition to the Clean Power Plan, the EPA has been working on plans to regulate chemical substances that pose risks to human health, including asbestos; opposing the utility industry’s legal attack over a rule limiting the toxic metals (such as mercury, lead, selenium) that are discharged from power plants; finalizing fuel economy standards that will require automakers to raise the average fuel efficiency of cars and trucks to 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025; enforcing the finalized coal ash rule, which set new recordkeeping, reporting, and groundwater monitoring requirements.
Update: ALEC published its response to the Pruitt nomination. “In selecting Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to serve as Administrator of EPA, President-elect Trump has found just the right person to bring fresh leadership and much-needed reform to an agency currently out of control … he has led coalitions of state attorneys general in challenging the legality of a litany of EPA regulations including the Regional Haze rule, the Waters of the United States rule, and the Clean Power Plan. As Pruitt explained during the 2014 ALEC Annual Meeting, these regulations collectively do little in the way of protecting public health but plenty in the way of needlessly driving up energy costs and usurping regulatory authority from the states.”