This week, President-elect Donald Trump made another appointment that will directly influence the oil and gas industry in the United States. Trump named Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt as his choice to run the agency that makes many energy industry folks shudder, just by hearing the name. However, Trump’s pick to lead the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is what drilling magnate and fracking pioneer Harold Hamm is calling “a great pick to lead the EPA,” according to CNBC.
The EPA pick sent energy stocks up significantly Friday morning to just over $56 per share. WTI crude was up Friday morning to over $51 per barrel as well.
Hamm told CNBC interviewers that Pruitt would be resolve “regulatory overreach,” that many in the industry have previously noted pose barriers to effective energy production.
As Attorney General, Pruitt led Oklahoma as one of the first states to rebel against the clean power plan, calling it “unlawful and overreaching.” He has accused the EPA of overstating the amount of pollution caused by new natural gas wells in a letter provided by Devon Energy.
Pruitt has also brought suits against the Department of the Interior and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, challenging endangered species such as the lesser prairie chicken that inhibit drilling in areas where the animal resides. Earlier this year, after the federal government removed the lesser prairie chicken from the list of endangered species in May, Pruitt said in a statement:
“The Obama administration’s unlawful attempt to list the lesser prairie chicken as an endangered species was not based on sound science but a hastily put-together effort by federal agencies, colluding with environmental groups, to engage in sue-and-settle tactics designed to stifle oil and gas exploration in Oklahoma and other states.”
Pruitt as EPA head might have industry leaders like Hamm looking forward to a new energy-friendly environment, but others see Trump’s pick as less than ideal. The Guardian’s headline called Scott Pruitt’s EPA “a dream for oil and gas firms” but a “nightmare for environment.”
Pruitt has not been silent in the past about his skepticism about climate change spurred by human activity. The Guardian notes that just last May, Pruitt wrote, “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.” This stance aligns with statements made by Donald Trump during his campaign, who tweeted in 2012, “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.”