Trump's EPA offensive will be the scientific cat fight of our time

After eight years of torment at the hands of President Obama and senior adviser Valerie Jarrett, the electoral shoe is now on the other foot, with Republican President-Elect Donald Trump preparing to take the helm in January.

The real battle to come may be fought on the ground of climate change, the sacred cow of the left.  A pair of articles posted at Real Clear Politics on the nomination of Oklahoma attorney general and EPA nemesis Scott Pruitt as the head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) highlight the challenge for Republicans and the distress for Democrats.

The Hill recounts the "Supreme Court's landmark 2007 climate change ruling" and the Obama EPA's subsequent 2009 "Endangerment Finding" that carbon dioxide "threatens both public health and welfare." 

The result of the Endangerment Finding was to "pave the way for EPA to finalize the proposed greenhouse gas emission standards for light-duty vehicles," among other actions.

Since Congress has been unwilling to intervene in the EPA's interpretation of the Clean Air Act, the task at hand for the incoming EPA administrator, according to The Hill, is to reverse the Endangerment Finding:

As long as the Endangerment Finding stands, any EPA, including one headed by Pruitt, will be in court defending against any subsidiary attempt to halt or reverse any regulation of carbon dioxide[.] ... So the Endangerment Finding must be reversed.

The Hill predicts "the scientific cat fight of our time":

The academy is going to howl, and Washington's science lobbies ... are going to go berserk.

... In nominating Pruitt, the administration is signaling that it is clearly up to such a fight – and not just over climate change.

... Our friends in the environmental movement should rightly be at Defcon Five. It appears that President-Elect Trump – in many ways just like his predecessor – is going to keep his environmental campaign promises, which means reversing eight years [of] what many feel was an era of green overreach.

... The nomination of Scott Pruitt is further evidence that the president-elect is serious, and circumstantial evidence that the influence of Al Gore's recent visit was of little consequence.

The left-leaning Daily Beast presents the view of the environmental movement:

Every scientist not on the corporate dole is upset about Scott Pruitt, Donald Trump's pick to head the Environmental Protection Agency.

... But he's about to enjoy free rein to gut environmental regulations, without Congress or the courts to stop him.

... Now the shoe is on the other foot. Now it's arch-conservatives who will be controlling the EPA, with exactly the same level of authority as the environmentalists who preceded them.

And make no mistake: Pruitt's nomination is historic. No one has ever headed the EPA with his level of anti-science, anti-environmental record, which includes multiple lawsuits against the EPA intended to prevent the EPA from doing its job. 

The Daily Beast doomsday EPA scenario includes a list of actions the new administrators "can take on their own, without congressional action, and with virtually no possibility of being stopped by the courts," including "sabotage" the agency through lack of enforcement, "adopt junk science that defies the 100 percent scientific consensus," "allow asbestos to be reintroduced," and "redirect Superfund money away from communities of color and others affected by environmental racism."

Tenacity under pressure, in the face of such rhetoric, will be key for any Trump nominee.  The Wall Street Journal ran an article, behind its paywall, describing the vetting process for potential appointees to the Trump cabinet:

The interviews amount to a "little bit of testing," said one person close to the vetting process, with Mr. Trump trying to gauge how people react under pressure, and whether they think quickly and show confidence.  He likes candidates who are assertive, this person said.

Scott Pruitt will get all the pressure-testing he can handle at EPA.