Trump Taps Scott Pruitt, Oklahoma AG and Top Obama Foe, to Head EPA

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
trump taps scott pruitt oklahoma ag and top obama foe to head epa

It looks like the Environmental Protection Agency’s rush to cement fuel economy targets before Inauguration Day wasn’t due to paranoia.

According to the New York Times, President-elect Donald Trump has tapped Oklahoma attorney general Scott Pruitt to head the EPA. Pruitt, 48, is a top opponent of the Obama administration’s environmental regulations and climate change policy, going so far as to organize legal action against the federal government.

Pruitt’s nod is bad news for environmentalists, and good news for industry. Automakers could soon find themselves less burdened by green tape.

With oil and gas extraction being a major economic driver in Oklahoma, Pruitt’s legal efforts sought to keep the investment flowing. Backed by energy firms, he targeted the EPA, claiming the agency overestimated greenhouse gas emissions from energy companies.

Along with 27 other states, numerous companies, and industry groups, Pruitt filed a lawsuit against the federal government’s climate change policies, citing predicted impact to industry and utilities. That case awaits a decision in federal court. Trump touted the coal industry and criticized Obama’s environmental initiatives during the election campaign, making Pruitt’s nomination less than surprising.

With an unabashed oil and gas proponent soon in charge of the EPA, it’s hard to imagine that sweeping regulatory changes aren’t on the way. Some could be the answer to the auto industry’s prayers.

For automakers, one nagging policy stands above all else: corporate average fuel economy (CAFE), and the target of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025 set four years ago. Reaching the target means greater spending on fuel-saving technology. Even though industry groups and automakers complained that the target is too high, the EPA recently gave it a tentative thumbs-up in its midterm review. (This, despite its own estimates that automakers would fall short.)

Most automakers would prefer lower fuel economy targets, or the elimination of CAFE altogether. Ford CEO Mark Fields has promised to lobby the Trump administration for lower state and federal targets.

After hearing the news, Mitch Bainwol, CEO of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, hailed Pruitt’s appointment. Bainwol stated the alliance wants to see the midterm fuel economy review completed “thoroughly,” with attention to “achieving a balanced outcome.”

With Republicans controlling the agenda in the executive office, Congress, and Senate for the next few years to come, Fields and the Auto Alliance could easily get their way.

[Image: Gage Skidmore/ Flickr ( CC BY-SA 2.0)]

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  • Doublechili Doublechili on Dec 08, 2016

    Based on the tone of comments in this thread, is the new head of the EPA going to try to abolish the EPA? Because I guess there are only two options: continue exactly the way the Obama administration did; or abolish the EPA entirely. Changing some things to be more in keeping with the philosophy of the incoming administration is apparently not an option.

    • Npaladin2000 Npaladin2000 on Dec 08, 2016

      If you mean based on the tone of the comments of this thread the entire EPA and their supports have come out in an organized effort to discredit any anti-EPA news, like they do on pretty much every other anti-EPA news or thread item on the Internet in order to preserve their power and save their jobs, yes. The sooner people realize that states can manage their environments better than some think tank in Washington, the better off everyone will be. CARB has done better work for the environment than the EPA has. So has Riverkeeper, and a variety of other state and local agencies.

  • DougD DougD on Dec 08, 2016

    Yup, worked in China for a while, Beijing is not the same thing as industrial central China. Too bad we can't post photos, got some lovely green and yellow smoke coming out of coal fired generating stations. I'll take an imperfect EPA any day over what most of the rest of the world is offering. I would hope that some of you get what you're wishing for, but your kids don't deserve that.

    • See 6 previous
    • Don1967 Don1967 on Dec 10, 2016

      @don1967 If you're "just going by what he says" then please tell us exactly what Donald Trump said about poisoning children. That particular citation seems to be missing from my internet. You're assuming that (a) without the EPA children will be poisoned, and (b) Donald Trump wants children to be poisoned. The first assumption is debatable, and the second is just plain idiotic.

  • FreedMike They should throw in a Lordstown pickup with every purchase. Make it the “vapor twofer.”
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  • Jonathan H. The ES production is going back to Japan so it's safe to assume its assembly building will be utilized for the new EV. Seems like a good fit for what will probably be fairly low volume compared to the Camry/Rav4 assembly lines.
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  • Bobbysirhan These prices will make more sense by the end of July.