President-elect Donald Trump, according to various press reports, has selected Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt as his nominee to head up the Environmental Protection Agency. Pruitt is a fierce opponent of the Obama administration's climate change agenda. Specifically, Pruitt is one of the leaders in the federal lawsuit challenging the legality of Obama's Clean Power Plan that would cut by 2030 U.S. power plant emissions of carbon dioxide about a third. In a 2014 op-ed in The Hill explaining his opposition to the CPP, Pruitt asserted:
Imagine a rule that raises the cost of electricity, hurts the most poor among us, cuts domestic jobs and results in a dramatic re-shaping of the American electricity system. Now imagine that this rule was never voted on by Congress.
This is the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's proposed Clean Power Plan, a rule that undercuts the states' abilities to manage their own power grid and will raise the cost of energy dramatically.
Those hurt most by the Clean Power Plan will be the most vulnerable among us-the poor, the single mothers, the elderly and minorities. Households earning less than $10,000 per year spend an astounding 60-80 percent of income on energy costs, and those earning between $10,000 and $30,000 per year spend greater than 20 percent of their income on energy. It is no surprise that the inability to pay utility bills is a leading cause of homelessness in U.S.
The EPA's proposed rule could increase the typical household's annual electricity and natural gas bills by $680, or 35 percent, by 2020, escalating each year thereafter as EPA regulations grow more stringent, according to a study by Energy Venture Analysis.
As I earlier reported on the EPA's dubious CPP math, Obama administration EPA analysts projected that the economic effects of CPP will be minimal, raising retail electricity prices by around 1 percent by 2030 and decreasing employment by only 30,000 job-years. In addition, the EPA's regulatory impact analysis esimates that the annual global climate benefits using a standard 5 percent discount rate would sum to $6.4 billion by 2030. In addition, the co-benefits—mostly improved health stemming from cleaner air—from reduced coal-burning would amount in 2030 to between $13 and $34 billion per year.
Not surprisingly, David Arkush, managing director of the climate program at the activist group Public Citizen, denounced the choice in a statement:
Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt is a terrible choice to run the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Pruitt is cozy with the oil and gas industry and treats the EPA like an enemy. Both of those positions put him at odds with what the American people want and what's best for the country.
Sam Adams, director of the World Resources Institute, agrees:
The selection of Attorney General Pruitt, who has consistently questioned climate science and actively fought EPA's ability to reduce emissions, raises deeply troubling questions. The critical issue is whether EPA will continue to play its vital role in protecting people's health and safety in communities across the country.
Trump met with climate warrior Al Gore earlier this week to talk about climate change. Nominating Pruitt suggests that the former V-P was not persuasive on the issue.