WASHINGTON Feb 21 The new head of the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, will address
workers at the government body for the first time on Tuesday
amid widespread expectations he intends to cut staff, budgets
and climate change programs.
President Donald Trump's pick to head the EPA was confirmed
by the Senate last week after hearings that focused on his
record as Oklahoma Attorney General, where he sued the EPA more
than a dozen times to stop its regulations.
Many Republican lawmakers view Pruitt as a refreshing change
at the top of an agency they blame for federal overreach and for
killing jobs in the coal and other industries.
But Democrats, environmental advocates, and many of the
EPA's current and former staff worry his appointment as
administrator of the agency will signal a reversal in America's
progress cleaning up air and water and in leading the fight
against global climate change.
Both Trump and Pruitt have expressed doubts about the
science behind climate change, and Trump vowed during his
campaign for the White House to pull the United States out of a
global pact to combat it. Trump has also promised to slash
environmental regulation to help bolster the drilling and mining
industries, but to do so in a way that doesn't hurt air and
"These are interesting and worrying times," one current EPA
official said, asking not to be named.
Ahead of Pruitt's nomination, some 800 former EPA staff
signed a letter urging senators to reject him, and around 30
current EPA staff joined a protest set up by the environmental
group Sierra Club in Chicago.
Democrats had also sought to delay his nomination over
questions about his ties to the oil industry in Oklahoma.
In Oklahoma, a state judge ruled last week that Pruitt will
have to turn over thousands of emails between his office and
energy companies by Tuesday after a watchdog group, the Center
for Media and Democracy, sued for their release.
The judge will review and perhaps hold back some of the
emails before releasing them, a court clerk said.
(Reporting by Timothy Gardner; Writing by Richard Valdmanis;
Editing by W Simon)