Environmentalist and climate science groups have roundly condemned President-elect Donald Trump's purported nominee to head the Environmental Protection Agency, Republican Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt.
Pruitt, the top lawman of one of the biggest producers of oil and natural gas in the nation, is a vocal skeptic of man-made climate change and has previously mounted five separate lawsuits against EPA regulations, according to The Daily Beast
The EPA is an agency that enjoys broad discretion to implement environmental regulations, from clean air standards to enforcing limits on carbon emissions.
As head of the EPA, Pruitt would have the authority to halt carbon emission regulations, loosen standards on air quality and toxic substances, and lower the cost penalties that businesses pay when their practices endanger human lives.
The heads of both the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the grassroots environmentalist group the Sierra Club have issued strongly worded warnings against Pruitt being confirmed for heading the EPA, the Independent reports.
"The preponderance of scientific evidence and our understanding of climate change is rigorous," said Dr. Rush Holt, chief executive of AAAS. "Human activities are largely responsible, impacts are already underway, and the sooner we act, the lower the cost and risk will be."
In May, Pruitt asserted the scientific consensus that mankind was contributing to climate change was still up for debate.
"Healthy debate is the lifeblood of American democracy, and global warming has inspired one of the major policy debates of our times," Pruitt wrote in an opinion article for the National Review. "That debate is far from settled. Scientists continue to disagree about the degree and extent of global warming and its connection to the actions of mankind."
Holt's statement countered that the necessity of curbing carbon emissions to avoid devastating climate impacts is overwhelmingly accepted in the scientific community.
"This has been well-established by many scientists working from many points of view and accepted by virtually every leading scientific organization in the world," Holt continued. "That clarity has continued to increase over the past three decades or so."
Meanwhile, executive director Michael Brune of the Sierra Club released a statement deeming Pruitt's appointment to be irresponsible.
"Having Scott Pruitt in charge of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is like putting an arsonist in charge of fighting fires," Brune said. "He is a climate science denier who, as attorney general for the state of Oklahoma, regularly conspired with the fossil fuel industry to attack EPA protections."
Brune urged members of the Senate to block Pruitt's nomination, concluding "Nothing less than our children's health is at stake."