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Scott Pruitt to Face Confirmation Hearings Wednesday as Trump's Pick for EPA

by Countable | 1.17.17

President-elect Donald Trump has selected Edward Scott Pruitt, attorney general of the oil- and gas-rich state of Oklahoma, to lead the Environmental Protection Agency. "My administration strongly believes in environmental protection, and Scott Pruitt will be a powerful advocate for that mission while promoting jobs, safety and opportunity," Trump said in a statement.

Who is Scott Pruitt?

Pruitt, 48, was born in Danville, KY, and grew up in nearby Lexington. His football and baseball prowess scored him an athletic scholarship to the University of Kentucky, but he transferred after just one year to Georgetown College, a small Christian school in Georgetown, KY. He graduated in 1990 with dual degrees in political science and communications, then moved to Oklahoma and earned a law degree from the University of Tulsa College of Law in 1993.

After five years in private practice, he successfully ran for the state Senate in 1998 and served until 2006. A subsequent bid for lieutenant governor brought him his first taste of electoral failure, but he was elected attorney general four years later. In that role, one of his first official acts was to found a "Federalism Unit," dedicated to opposing “unwarranted regulation and overreach by the federal government.” It would go on to file the first lawsuit challenging the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.

Whether as a student, a lawyer or a politician, Pruitt has never stopped following baseball, and in 2004 he became co-owner and general managing partner of the Oklahoma City RedHawks (now the Oklahoma City Dodgers) the triple-A affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers. He and his wife, Marlyn, live in Tulsa with their daughter, McKenna, and son, Cade.

What’s the outlook for his confirmation?

Likely, given the Republicans’ Senate majority, but it won’t be a cakewalk. Pruitt, considered by his critics to be a climate-change denier, sued the EPA 14 times as attorney general in an effort to skirt regulations that would have adversely impacted Oklahoma’s lucrative energy industries. He has also publicly expressed disdain for what he saw as the EPA’s "activist agenda" and hinted that he would roll back nearly all of the Obama administration’s environmental policies, most notably the Clean Power Plan, the first nationwide effort to minimize carbon pollution caused by power plants. The plan was just implemented by the EPA in 2015.

Democrats are preparing for a vigorous battle to deny his appointment. Former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has vowed to do all he can to reject the "sad and dangerous" selection of Pruitt. Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI) said, “The health of our planet and our people is too important to leave in the hands of someone who does not believe in scientific facts or the basic mission of the EPA.”

Pruitt will also likely be taken to task for some of his decisions as attorney general, including his repeated cooperation with industry donors to his political campaign and his reluctance to punish companies found to have violated environmental regulations.

You can tell your senators how to vote on Pruitt’s confirmation using the "Take Action" button below.

What does the EPA do?

The Environmental Protection Agency’s chief mission is to protect human health and the environment. It develops and enforces regulations to partner with congressional laws concerning the environment, endangered species and hazardous waste. The agency makes grants available to state environmental programs, nonprofits and educational institutions for projects ranging from scientific studies, to waterway cleanup, to anti-pollution campaigns.

In addition, it studies such environmental issues as global climate change and energy conservation efforts. Its Washington, D.C., headquarters, 10 regional offices and 27 laboratories employ 15,376 people, and it had a fiscal year 2016 budget of $8.1 billion.

— Erin Wright

(Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore / Creative Commons)

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