The Scott Pruitt Nomination: Bad for the Environment, Bad for our Future

Scott Pruitt’s nomination is just the first of what will likely be many efforts by the incoming Trump administration to gut environmental health protections.

Scott Pruitt’s nomination is just the first of what will likely be many efforts by the incoming Trump administration to gut environmental health protections.
Scott Pruitt’s nomination is just the first of what will likely be many efforts by the incoming Trump administration to gut environmental health protections. (Gage Skidmore/CC BY-SA 2.0)

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Never before has a person been nominated to lead the Environmental Protection Agency whose record is as antithetical to the agency’s mission as that of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt. That’s why Earthjustice is standing alongside hundreds of other groups to demand that the Senate reject this nomination.   

Pruitt’s record of open hostility to protecting the environment and human health, his denial of science, his “pay to play” unethical relationship with the oil industry as attorney general, and his unabashed disdain for the very mission of the agency he seeks to lead  are truly unique—and truly alarming.

Anyone familiar with Pruitt’s record can see that his agenda is to dismantle environmental laws and the agencies charged with enforcing them. As Oklahoma’s attorney general, Pruitt has repeatedly attacked bedrock laws that protect our air, water, health and communities. He has fought federal pollution limits on toxic substances like soot and mercury that put us all at risk from increased cancer, childhood asthma and other health problems. He also falsely claims that fracking doesn’t contaminate drinking water supplies. And, perhaps most startling, he’s a climate change denier who could end up leading the very federal agency tasked with curbing climate change.

During Pruitt’s nomination hearing on Wednesday, January 18, the public will have an opportunity to fully understand the impact that a Pruitt EPA will have on public health and environment. Senators must scrutinize Pruitt’s long record of filing numerous lawsuits against the EPA in an effort to gut or water down common sense safeguards against polluting industries. He must also be made to answer tough questions about his cozy relationship with the fossil fuel industry. Most recently, public documents have uncovered that Pruitt has been a part of a secretive corporate campaign to undo federal pollution protections designed to keep our air and water clean. In exchange, the oil industry has reciprocated with campaign contributions to him and his allies.

Pruitt’s conduct in office and relationship with the oil industry exhibit a tendency toward ignoring or circumventing guidelines meant to ensure transparency.  Does an attorney general, whose primary responsibility is to enforce and respect the rule of law but chooses not to follow it, sound like a reasonable choice for such a high-ranking position in our federal government?

During the next four years, it’s critical that the EPA continue to carry out its publicly-stated mission “to ensure that all Americans are protected from significant risks to human health and the environment where they live, learn and work.” The agency and the country deserves a strong leader at its helm to defend fundamental values like clean air, clean water, and a healthy, stable environment—not a polluter insider like Pruitt.

We are going all out to oppose this nomination, and we are ready to fight the rollbacks of environmental protections that Pruitt will no doubt attempt if he is confirmed. You can follow these fights in our new blog series, Capitol Watch, as we battle the Trump administration and the new Congress to protect our air and water, our health, and the climate. 

Take Action! Tell your senator to reject the nomination of Scott Pruitt as EPA administrator.


The 45th U.S. president, Donald J. Trump, is bent on gutting environmental protections, and—with a polluter-friendly Congress at his side—he’ll likely do everything he can to dismantle our fundamental right to a healthy environment. The Capitol Watch blog series will shine a light on these political attacks from Congress and the Trump administration, as well as the work of Earthjustice and our allies to hold them accountable.

Trip Van Noppen served as Earthjustice’s president from 2008 until he retired in 2018. A North Carolina native, Trip said of his experience: “Serving as the steward of Earthjustice for the last decade has been the greatest honor of my life.”

Established in 1989, Earthjustice's Policy & Legislation team works with champions in Congress to craft legislation that supports and extends our legal gains.