Trump Nominates Pruitt to Lead EPA
By: Constitution Staff
“We’re certainly going to draw a line in the sand. This is the worst-case scenario when it comes to clean air and clean water, to nominate a climate denier to the agency charged with protecting our natural resources,” said U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), expressing his opposition to the nomination of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt by President-elect Donald Trump as director of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
For conservatives, however, it was a home run. Pruitt has fought President Barack Obama in court on a host of issues, including Obama’s executive orders on ObamaCare, immigration and even bathroom use by transgender people, in addition to his lawsuit against the very agency he is now slated to lead.
Pruitt was a leader in state litigation against Obama’s climate rule for power plants, and has also challenged Obama’s water regulations and standards for ground-level ozone pollution, haze, and methane. Trump intends to repeal the Clean Water Rule and generally roll back rules on fossil fuel production, stating that he will place a moratorium on new regulations by requiring two rules be repealed for every new rule created by the EPA.
Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont), a member of the Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW), was likewise incensed at the nomination of Pruitt, promising to “vigorously” oppose Pruitt. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut) promised “a fight” against Pruitt’s nomination. “I think he has a record and it will be scrutinized, and there will be opposition there as a result.”
It is that very record that should reassure conservatives who were concerned that Trump met with former Vice President Al Gore, perhaps the most visible advocate of draconian laws to stop “climate change,” which Gore claims is caused by human economic activity. It also is a set-back to Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, who essentially agrees with Gore on the issue.
Obama had ordered a 32 percent cut in the emission of carbon dioxide emissions by the fossil fuel industries (such as oil and gas, and coal) by 2030. Trump called the harsh regulations a “war on coal.” It is thought that Obama’s rules, which Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton fully supported, contributed to Trump’s surprising win in Pennsylvania.
Pruitt said the plan would shut down numerous coal-fired power plants in Oklahoma and raise the price of electricity for consumers.
“This is an effort that I think is extraordinary in cost, extraordinary in scope, and I think extraordinary as it relates to the intrusion into the sovereignty of the states,” Pruitt said recently, in commenting about the rules of Obama’s EPA. Pruitt contended that the rule “coerces” states to reorganize their electricity systems and “commandeers” state resources to do that. He charges that it is unconstitutional.
“It’s an invasion … of the state regulatory domain, and it’s something that is unique and breathtaking as it relates to the kind of rulemaking the EPA has engaged in historically.” Pruitt led fellow Republican attorneys general in getting the Supreme Court to put a hold on the rule earlier this year.
Another battle taken on by Pruitt was a legal fight against the Clean Water Rule of the EPA, sometimes called the Waters of the United States. It claimed that small waterways like wetlands and streams are under federal, not state, jurisdiction. To that claim, Pruitt retorted, “This regulation usurps the state’s authority over its land and water use, and triggers numerous and costly obligations under the [Clean Water] Act for the state and its citizens.” He convinced a federal court to block its implementation, as well.
Pruitt is also skeptical of the assertions of Gore and others like him on the issue of “climate change.” Writing in the Tulsa World last May, Pruitt said the debate on global warming “is far from settled” and that “scientists continue to disagree about the degree and extent of global warming and its connection to the actions of mankind.”
Scott Pruitt was elected attorney general of Oklahoma in 2010 as a close ally with Oklahoma’s conservative Senator Jim Inhofe. Inhofe is the outgoing chairman of the Senate’s Environmental and Public Works Committee, and has written a book in opposition to what he has called the “hoax” of human-caused climate change. Before his election as attorney general, Pruitt was part-owner and general manager of the Oklahoma Redhawks baseball team, and had served in the Oklahoma State Senate, where he was named a Top Conservative Legislator by the Oklahoma Constitution newspaper.
As attorney general, Pruitt has taken on many causes in support of limited government and the sovereignty of the states. He took on the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare), filing suit in federal court in an effort to combat ObamaCare. He won in federal court with his argument that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) did “not have the authority to expand access to subsidies (nor levy penalties) beyond what is clearly written in the law. These issues are of great importance to the State of Oklahoma because we value our state’s economic stability and growth, and the rule of law.”
Pruitt was challenging the decision of the Obama’s IRS to force Oklahoma (and those of 33 other states) citizens to be part of ObamaCare, despite the choice of Oklahoma and other states to not set up health care exchanges. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court eventually ruled that, even though the 2010 law said the subsidies would come through state exchanges (or if the state chose, federal exchanges), that it did not matter. Commentator Dick Morris agreed with Pruitt’s position, explaining that the law had said tax credits could be given only if a plan was enrolled in through the exchange established by the state under Section 1311 of the Affordable Care Act. Had the Supreme Court sided with Pruitt, it would have crippled the Obamacare law in Oklahoma and 33 other states.
On the state level, Pruitt told an interviewer with the libertarian think tank, CATO, that he does not agree with civil asset forfeiture, unless it is “post-conviction.”
In the podcast with CATO, Pruitt said he had no trouble with seizing property of drug dealers used in the drug trade, but that a person should have to be convicted before permanent asset forfeiture could take place. “The system we have in Oklahoma is wrong and flawed.”
He cited an “egregious” example of abuse of civil asset forfeiture in Oklahoma, in which a Kansas resident was traveling with a contemporary Christian band, having raised a large amount of charity money to send to Burma, but was stopped by a sheriff’s office in Muskogee County for a broken taillight. Since the man was carrying $53,000 in cash, the sheriff’s office just presumed it was drug money. They called in a drug dog, who alerted that drugs were in the vehicle. Pruitt told CATO that the use of drug dogs “can be manipulated.”
Pruitt has even stood up to fellow Republicans in Oklahoma, when he believes they are not following the law. For example, when a state school superintendent hired three high-level staffers at the Department of Education without approval from the State Board of Education (as required by law), using private funds, Pruitt issued an opinion against the action, even though the superintendent was a fellow Republican. In Oklahoma, attorneys general can issue “opinions” on the legality of actions by state officials that are held as a lawful interpretation unless overturned by a court.
“A person cannot perform official duties of a state agency with compensation paid directly to them by a private person or entity,” Pruitt said. “Only employees and offices of the state who are authorized by law to do so may perform the official duties of the state, and those who are authorized may only be compensated as authorized by law.”
National columnist Charles Krauthammer said, “Pruitt’s is the most important nomination [of Trump] because it is a direct attack on the insidious growth of the administrative state.”
“Pruitt has been deemed unfit to serve [by the Left] because he fails liberalism’s modern-day religious test: belief in anthropogenic climate change,” Krauthammer added, then said, “Pruitt’s nomination is a dramatic test of the proposition that agencies administer the law, they don’t create it.”
Senator Jim Inhofe was very pleased with the nomination. “Pruitt has fought back against unconstitutional and overzealous environmental regulations like Waters of the U.S. and the Clean Power Plan … I am pleased.”
So will be most conservative Oklahomans. The only downside to this appointment is that Pruitt will no longer be our attorney general.
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