Why Is Scott Pruit Suing The EPA? Donald Trump's Pick Is Not A Fan Of The Government Fighting Carbon Pollution

More bad news for progressives: President-elect Donald Trump's pick to lead the Environmental Protection Agency is not exactly in the mold of Al Gore, according to reports. Trump's reported pick for EPA Chief, Scott Pruitt, currently works as Attorney General for the state of Oklahoma. Pruitt is a climate change denier who is currently leading a 28-state initiative to sue the EPA for the Clean Power Plan, which intends to reduce the amount of carbon pollution emitted from power plants.

Pruitt defended his decision to sue the EPA by arguing that the agency was overreaching in passing additional regulations without Congressional action: “This is something from a constitutional and statutory perspective that causes great concern.”

Oddly, the Clean Power Plan originated as an unfulfilled campaign promise suggested by George W. Bush in 2000, and it was later championed by environmental activists on the left until it was adopted as policy by the EPA under Barack Obama. After the EPA adopted the new regulations, Pruitt and others filed the lawsuit, which is currently awaiting a decision from the United States Court of Appeals; the EPA warned of "a monumental threat to Americans' health and welfare," should emissions go unchecked.

If the courts do uphold the Clean Power Plan as is, environmental law experts say that the Trump administration would have to prove that there was a "non-arbitrary" reason for attempting to change or abolish the rule. Doing so would be possible but time-intensive, and, Vox writer Brad Plumer suggested, Democrats could filibuster the change.

Progressives, unsurprisingly, were not thrilled by news of the nomination. The Sierra Club released a statement saying that putting Pruitt in charge of the EPA was "like putting an arsonist in charge of fighting fires." Former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders called the nomination "sad and dangerous."

According to Politico, Pruitt's reputation as an opponent of environmental regulation is well-founded. Reporters Alex Guillen and Andrew Restuccia wrote:

Pruitt has been at the forefront of lawsuits challenging EPA regulations on carbon emissions and water pollution, and he is expected to lead the effort to erase much of President Barack Obama's environmental agenda.

Worse, "erasing ... Obama's environmental agenda" (as Politico's Guillen and Restuccia warned) might be the least of Americans' worries. During the primaries, Trump famously swore he would abolish the EPA (or, as he called it, the "Department of Environmental"), a pledge that now appears closer to realization than ever. In case one had any doubts about how high a priority combatting climate change would be for the Trump administration, the nomination of Pruitt makes it abundantly clear how low it is.