Trump taps Scott Pruitt to lead EPA, a longtime critic of the ag - KSWO 7News | Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Trump taps Scott Pruitt to lead EPA, a longtime critic of the agency

(RNN) - President-elect Donald Trump has chosen Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, the Associated Press reports. 

Pruitt, who has served as the 17th attorney general of the Sooner State since 2011, has been a persistent critic of the science behind climate change and a thorn in the side of the Obama administration's EPA. 

Pruitt has been the face of multiple legal battles challenging EPA regulations on carbon emissions and pollution. The New York Times reported in December 2014 that the conservative joined together with several of his fellow Republican state attorneys general in a pact with some of the nation's largest energy producers to fight the current administration's efforts.

He sent a letter to the EPA charging that federal regulators had overestimated the amount of pollution caused by the drilling of natural gas wells in Oklahoma. The New York Times reported that the letter was almost identical to one given him by lawyers from Devon Energy, one of Oklahoma's biggest oil and gas companies.

Pruitt and his Alabama counterpart, Luther Strange, also penned a National Review article in May calling for "healthy debate" on the subject of climate change. 

"Healthy debate is the lifeblood of American democracy, and global warming has inspired one of the major policy debates of our time," the pair of conservative state officials wrote. "That debate is far from settled. Scientists continue to disagree about the degree and extent of global warming and its connection to the actions of mankind. That debate should be encouraged — in classrooms, public forums, and the halls of Congress. It should not be silenced with threats of prosecution. Dissent is not a crime."

Earlier this week, Trump met with former Vice President Al Gore, who has been a vocal proponent of a worldwide effort to curb carbon emissions and fight man-made climate change. Their meeting, which Gore described as "lengthy" and "productive," had initially given hope to environmental activists who feared the incoming president would set back eight years of Obama's work. 

The president-elect had also expressed openness to climate change science to the New York Times after his election. He has previously called it a "hoax" on social media. 

"I'll tell you what. I have an open mind to it," he told the the newspaper. "We're going to look very carefully. It's one issue that's interesting because there are few things where there's more division than climate change. I have a very open mind, and I'm going to study a lot of the things that happened on it, and we're going to look at it very carefully."

He said he thought there was "some connectivity" between rising temperatures and human activity. 

Based off Twitter feedback, those environmental activists are no longer holding out hope that Trump had a turnaround. 

The president-elect made job creation a focal point of his winning candidacy. Trump said he believes the Obama administration's EPA has hampered economic growth by stifling companies with regulations. 

"It also depends on how much it’s going to cost our companies.You have to understand - our companies are noncompetitive right now," he told the New York Times. "They're really largely noncompetitive. We're not a competitive nation with other nations anymore."

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