From EPA Foe to EPA Head

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Scott Pruitt

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Scott Pruitt

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt hasn’t shied away from suing the federal government during his six years as the state’s chief litigator.

Early after taking office in 2011, Pruitt became the first attorney general in the nation to set up a unit designed exclusively to fight what he viewed as federal overreach.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency quickly emerged as one of his top targets, as he pushed back against water, air and pollution standards. Pruitt is now poised to lead the agency that he has so frequently challenged. On Wednesday, President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team announced that Pruitt will be nominated for agency’s top post.

A review of Pruitt’s legal challenges against the agency shows he has had varying degrees of success, with several lawsuits still pending. Here’s a look at Pruitt’s history of battling the EPA.

Clean Power Plan

President Barack Obama unveiled his signature climate-change initiative when he announced the final version of the Clean Power Plan last year. The sweeping environmental measure seeks to reduce carbon emissions nationwide by nearly a third compared to 2005 baseline levels.

But along with other GOP attorneys general, Pruitt led the charge in suing to block the plan.

The U.S. Supreme Court ordered the EPA to halt enforcement of the plan in February while an appeals court hears the case. That challenge is ongoing, but Trump has pledged to revoke the plan as one of his first presidential actions.

Regional Haze Rule

One of Pruitt’s original fights against the EPA came in 2011 when he sued the agency over its Regional Haze Plan.

The rule requires states to put together a plan to improve visibility at national parks and wilderness areas by 2064. The EPA, however, rejected Oklahoma’s plan and decided to implement it own plan.

The 10th Circuit of Appeals ruled in favor of the EPA in 2013.

Clean Water Rule

Under Pruitt’s guidance, Oklahoma became one of 17 states that is challenging an EPA rule that redefines what waterways fall under the jurisdiction of the federal agency.

They say the definitions are too broad and give federal regulators too much authority over states.

The suit is currently being considered by the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. But Trump has said this is another regulation he would revoke within his first 100 days in office.

Carbon Regulations

In 2014, Pruitt also had Oklahoma join a coalition of states and Murray Energy Corp. in challenging an EPA rule that sets allowable carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants.

A federal judge sided in favor of the states and Murray Energy Corp., ruling that the EPA failed to consider the impact the regulations would have on job losses and energy industries.

Sue and Settle

Pruitt has routinely sought to intervene in court cases in an effort to avoid settlements between environmental groups and the EPA.

Pruitt and others call this “sue and settle” – a practice they allege allows the EPA to give in to the demands of environmental groups instead of fighting the lawsuits.

Pruitt challenged this practice in several cases by filing amicus briefs, which are filings by non-litigants who have an interest in the subject matter, even in suits that don’t directly involve Oklahoma. In 2013, Pruitt joined several other attorneys general in unsuccessfully seeking to force the EPA to release documents showing how it “cooperates” with environmental groups on the settlements.