Environment, Politics

Georgia Sided With New EPA Head Against Agency In The Past

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt gestures as he answers a question during a news conference in Oklahoma City, Thursday, June 13, 2013. The Supreme Court on Thursday decisively sided with Oklahoma and rejected Texas' claim that it has a right under a 30-year-old agreement to cross their common border for water to serve the fast-growing Fort Worth area. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt gestures as he answers a question during a news conference in Oklahoma City, Thursday, June 13, 2013. The Supreme Court on Thursday decisively sided with Oklahoma and rejected Texas' claim that it has a right under a 30-year-old agreement to cross their common border for water to serve the fast-growing Fort Worth area. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
Credit Sue Ogrocki / Associated Press
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Scott Pruitt has been confirmed as head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. As Oklahoma Attorney General, he has opposed the agency in lawsuits, and Georgia has often sided with him.

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There are two big Obama-era EPA initiatives that President Donald Trump said he would undo. Pruitt, as Oklahoma’s attorney general, sued to block those rules, as did then-Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens. They rules are the Clean Power Plan, which is meant to fight climate change by closing coal-fired power plants, and Waters of the United States rule, which is meant to define what bodies of water fall under the Clean Water Act.

Now that Pruitt is in charge of the agency, local environmental groups are concerned.

“State agencies are often underfunded and poorly positioned to take on enforcement responsibilities, and so we depend on EPA to come in on those situations,” said Kurt Ebersbach, senior attorney at the Southern Environmental Law Center.

Both of Georgia’s senators voted to confirm Pruitt today.

“We are deeply disappointed in Senator Johnny Isakson and Senator David Perdue, who were elected to represent our communities’ best interests, for failing to protect Georgia families in favor of corporate greed,” Ted Terry, director of the Sierra Club’s Georgia Chapter and mayor of Clarkston, said in an emailed statement.

Georgia’s current attorney general, Chris Carr, who replaced Olens, has continued the office’s opposition to the EPA’s controversial climate and water rules. In December, he joined other state attorneys general in suggesting ways for the Trump administration to dismantle the plans once Trump took office. The Georgia attorney general’s office did not respond to a request for comment for this story.

Trump may begin signing executive orders regarding both the Clean Power Plan and Waters of the U.S. rule next week.