Donald Trump is currently considering several candidates with close ties to the fossil fuel industry for the role of US Secretary of Energy. While that’s far from being progressive since renewables are widely considered to be the future of energy, it makes some sense from a conservative point of view since fossil fuels are currently the main source of energy in the US.
It is a whole lot more difficult to justify the nomination of someone with close ties the fossil fuel industry to the head of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Yet in an obvious ‘fox guarding the henhouse’ metaphor, that’s exactly what Donald Trump did yesterday. Several news outlets are reporting that Trump finally chose Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to lead the agency.
Pruitt, a climate change denier, is behind one of the main legal efforts to stop the EPA from implementing the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan, which aims to force states to accelerate the deployment of renewable energy in order to meet U.S. obligations under the Paris Climate Agreement.
It’s one of many of Pruitt’s efforts to curtail the deployment of renewable energy in favor of coal and oil. In some cases, those efforts were directly backed by the oil industry. The New York Times reported:
A 2014 investigation by The Times found that energy lobbyists drafted letters for Mr. Pruitt to send, on state stationery, to the E.P.A., the Interior Department, the Office of Management and Budget and even President Obama, outlining the economic hardship of the environmental rules.
The close ties have paid off for Mr. Pruitt politically: Harold G. Hamm, the chief executive of Continental Energy, an Oklahoma oil and gas company, was a co-chairman of Mr. Pruitt’s 2013 re-election campaign.
Killing the Clean Power Plan for good will probably be on top of Pruitt’s list when he takes over, but as we reported yesterday, the agency is trying to push regulations ahead of schedule in order to mitigate the impact of Trump’s administration on the agency.
The EPA rushed to file its midterm review of the standard early in order to put in place the fleet fuel consumption requirement of 54.5 mpg by 2025. Automakers producing gas-guzzling vehicles have already started lobbying Trump to see what can be done to stop the agency and they will surely be happy to learn of Pruitt’s impending nomination.