U.S. President-elect Donald Trump has picked climate change sceptic Scott Pruitt, a Republican, to head America’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Currently Attorney-General of Oklahoma, Mr. Pruitt prides himself in being “a leading advocate against the EPA’s activist agenda”, and his appointment could undermine the proactive environmental programme pursued by President Barack Obama. The selection has outraged environmental activists and organisations.
Ties with India
A dilution of the U.S. climate change agenda could have a bearing on its relationship with India. Cooperation in climate change mitigation has been a prominent component of bilateral relations and both countries have explained several initiatives, including the civil nuclear cooperation, from that perspective. The first commercial agreement between India and the U.S. under the civil nuclear pact is to be concluded in June 2017.
During the campaign, Mr. Trump had said the U.S. would quit the Paris climate agreement under his presidency but after winning the election, he said he was keeping an “open mind” on climate questions. He also met former Vice-President and leading climate activist Al Gore on Monday, signalling a moderation in his view. Mr. Gore had described the meeting as “a sincere search for areas of common ground”.
In a statement announcing Mr. Pruitt’s selection on Thursday morning, Mr. Trump said: “For too long, the Environmental Protection Agency has spent taxpayer dollars on an out-of-control anti-energy agenda that has destroyed millions of jobs, while also undermining our incredible farmers and many other businesses and industries at every turn… Pruitt… will reverse this trend and restore the EPA’s essential mission of keeping our air and our water clean and safe.”
Mr. Trump described the appointee as a “powerful advocate” for environmental protection, but environmental groups do not agree. “The selection of… 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,” said Sam Adams, Director, World Resources Institute, in a statement.
Mr. Obama and former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton had sought to build the global climate regime as an opportunity to create jobs in America, in the renewable energy sector. Ms. Clinton had cited her role in persuading India to change its position at the Copenhagen climate conference in 2009 repeatedly during the campaign.
Mr. Trump, on the other hand, appears to be focused on fossil fuel jobs that have been lost in America. Mr. Pruitt has been a strong supporter of fossil fuel industry in the country.
Environmental regulation is only part of the reason why the fossil fuel industry is in decline in the country, most experts agree, but the President-elect and his team consider EPA the villain.
“Mr. Pruitt has been a national leader against the EPA’s job-killing war on coal… Pruitt agrees with President-elect Trump that States should have the sovereignty to make many regulatory decisions for their own markets,” the statement from the transition team said.