U.S. President-elect Donald Trump’s choice to lead the Environmental Protection Agency is a key critic of President Barack Obama’s plan to address climate change by slashing carbon emissions from the nation’s power plants.

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt is one of the officials from 27 states who filed a lawsuit in January seeking to block the Clean Power Plan, which through the EPA called for states to come up with ways to reduce overall emissions by 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. At the same time, the amount of energy produced using renewable sources would rise.

Montana Senator Steve Daines said he appreciates Pruitt’s work opposing Obama’s plan.

“I look forward to watching him dismantle the EPA’s Clean Power Plan piece by piece as EPA administrator,” Daines said.

Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe praised Pruitt as a leader on environmental issues.

“Pruitt has fought back against unconstitutional and overzealous environmental regulations like Waters of the U.S. and the Clean Power Plan; he has proven that being a good steward of the environment does not mean burdening tax payers and businesses with red tape,” Inhofe said in a statement. “In his appearances before the Environment and Public Works committee, Pruitt has demonstrated that he is an expert on environmental laws and a champion of states’ roles in implementing those laws.”

Watch: Trump announces more Cabinet picks
Utah Senator Mike Lee called Pruitt a “strong pick” by Trump.

In February, the Supreme Court issued an order halting the rules from going into effect while the legal challenge was ongoing. It sent the case down to the District of Columbia Court of Appeals for review, but the matter is widely expected to end up back before the nation’s highest court, where a current 4-4 split is almost certain to become a 5-4 conservative-leaning majority with a Trump appointee filling the vacancy.

The states suing the government described it in court documents as “the most far reaching and burdensome rule EPA has ever forced onto the states.”

In last month’s election all but two of the 27 states — Colorado and New Jersey — voted for Trump.

Climate change doubts

Pruitt has expressed skepticism about climate change. He and Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange wrote in National Review in May a scathing criticism of states that are pursuing legal action against companies that have disputed climate change science.

“Healthy debate is the lifeblood of American democracy, and global warming has inspired one of the major policy debates of our time. That debate is far from settled,” they wrote.

Trump has given varying views on climate change, in recent years calling it a hoax, but telling the New York Times last month there is “some connectivity” with the actions of humans.

“It depends on how much. It also depends on how much it’s going to cost our companies,” Trump said.

Cost is part of the argument by the states in the EPA lawsuit. They say Obama’s emissions target cannot be met by retrofitting existing fossil-fuel-powered plants.

Trump campaigned on promises of both boosting coal energy and cutting government regulations.

Gore, DiCaprio visit

While those seem to go against consideration for tackling planet-warming carbon dioxide emissions, environmental advocate and former Vice President Al Gore was one of the people Trump met with this week as he forms his administration.

On Tuesday, he also met with Leonardo DiCaprio, another champion of taking action against climate change. The head of DiCaprio’s foundation, Terry Tamminen, said in a statement to the Associated Press that the actor presented a plan for boosting the economy through investments in “sustainable infrastructure” that included creating jobs in companies that create clean energy.

Also this week, more than 800 scientists signed an open letter to Trump, posted by Scientific American, saying climate change threatens the U.S. economy, national security and public health.

They made a series of recommendations, including publicly saying man-made climate change is real and telling the American people he will keep in place policies to cut greenhouse gases, including the Obama Clean Power Plan.

One person Trump is considering for the key role of secretary of state is ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson. The two met Tuesday, but Trump has said he plans to announce his choice next week.
The 64-year-old Tillerson has no government experience, but has close ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin and other world leaders.

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