US President-elect Donald Trump nominated Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, a leading critic of President Barack Obama's policies to combat climate change, to head the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), transition team officials told US media on Wednesday.
The Republican law enforcement official has vehemently battled the very agency is nominated to head, launching multiple lawsuits against the EPA under President Barack Obama's tenure.
Pruitt has described the debate on climate change as "far from settled." He views Obama's Clean Power Plan, a program that requires states to limit carbon emissions produced by power plants.
In an interview with Reuters news agency, Pruitt said the program is a form of federal "coercion and commanderring" of energy policy, adding that Oklahoma should have "sovereignty to make decisions for its own markets."
'Climate change denier'
Environmental protection organizations and Democratic lawmakers have lashed out at the nomination, saying it effectively undermines the EPA's mandate on environmental protection.
The American environmental organization Sierra Club said the nomination equates to "putting an arsonist in charge of fighting fires."
US Senator Bernie Sanders said he would "vigorously oppose" Pruitt's appointment, which requires congressional approval.
"Mr. Pruitt's record is not only that of being a climate change denier, but also someone who has worked closely with the fossil fuel industry to make this country more dependent, not less, on fossil fuels," Sanders said in a statement.
ls/bw (Reuters, AFP)