The former head of President Donald Trump’s energy transition team said during a private meeting last month that Scott Pruitt’s political ambitions could potentially put him into conflict with the White House’s energy policies.
Pruitt is a “clever lawyer” whose “political ambition” may distract him from taking on time-consuming efforts like challenging the endangerment finding, Myron Ebell, who headed Trump’s transition team for the agency, said at a conservative conference in April.
“This is an impending disaster for the Trump administration,” Ebell, the director of energy and environment for the Competitive Enterprise Institute, said in a recording obtained by liberal media group Center for Media and Democracy. He was once in the running to head up the EPA before the president moved on to Pruitt.
An EPA spokesman, meanwhile, told reporters Sunday that Pruitt has been implementing Trump’s executive orders and has nixed several dozen Obama-era climate regulations since taking up his position.
Ebell elaborated on his comments in an interview with The Daily Caller News Foundation, telling The DCNF that his remarks at the conference were no different than those he’s made elsewhere. The only difference, Ebell added, was that they were made during a closed-door meeting.
“I said several positive and a couple very positive things about Scott Pruitt as EPA Administrator,” he said, adding that there could potentially be a problem with Pruitt if his personal political ambition were out of step with the Trump agenda.
Trump has already followed through on promises he made during the presidential campaign, such as successfully rolling back Obama-era climate regulations. He is also currently weighing whether to stay in the Paris climate agreement, a 200-nation deal meant to drastically reduce global greenhouse levels.
Pruitt, a former Oklahoma attorney general who sued the EPA more than a dozen times, has lobbied the president to leave the Paris agreement but has refused to demolish the so-called endangerment finding, which includes defining carbon dioxide as a public health threat. It underlies the bulk of U.S. climate regulations.
Ebell complained during the conference about Trump’s decision to appoint people with different political perspectives and backgrounds, which he believes making it difficult for the administration pull on the same rope.
“He’s got people on different sides and they are all fighting over who gets these jobs and nobody has the clout except the president to say, ‘Hey fix this, let’s get this done,’” he said. Ebell has raised similar concerns in the past.