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December 8, 2016

President-Elect Nominates Oklahoma Attorney General to Head EPA

Bergeson & Campbell, P.C.

On December 8, 2016, President-Elect Donald Trump confirmed his intention to nominate Oklahoma Attorney General (AG) E. Scott Pruitt to head the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  Rumors about Mr. Pruitt’s nomination have been circulating for some time, but his nomination was confirmed via a Facebook post.  Mr. Pruitt has been the Oklahoma AG since November 2010.  Mr. Pruitt received a B.A. from Georgetown College in Georgetown, Kentucky, in Political Science and Communications and his J.D. from the University of Tulsa.  From 1993-1998, Mr. Pruitt worked in private practice, specializing in constitutional and employment law.  He was an Oklahoma State Senator from 1998-2006, and from 2003-2010, was the Co-owner and Managing General Partner of the Oklahoma City Redhawks (a Triple-A baseball team).  Trump’s Facebook post states “[a]n expert in Constitutional law and one of the country’s top attorneys general, Pruitt brings a deep understanding of the impact of regulations on both the environment and the economy making him an excellent choice to lead [EPA].”

Mr. Pruitt has been a bit of a lightning rod in his criticism of the Obama Administration’s environmental policy approach as, based on press accounts, he has spoken against a number of prominent elements and may, according to BNA’s Daily Environment Report, face a tough confirmation hearing process from Democrats.  He has also been involved, along with other State AGs, in litigation challenging aspects of EPA’s regulations, particularly the Clean Power Plan. 

Our view is that we do not know Mr. Pruitt’s work very well, but look forward to getting a clearer sense of how he will approach his new responsibilities, assuming he is confirmed despite what some suggest could be formidable push-back from non-governmental organizations and others.  We hope that, as a lawyer, he will bring an emphasis on the rule of law and that, regarding the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) and the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), he will work to implement the laws as written and reasonably interpreted.  As readers know, these questions are of paramount importance given the early implementation stage of the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act that amends TSCA.