From E&E: TRANSITION – EPA, Interior, DOE picks could come next week

EPA, Interior, DOE picks could come next week

Robin Bravender, E&E News reporter

Published: Friday, December 2, 2016Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin and North Dakota Rep. Kevin Cramer

(Left to right) Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin and North Dakota Rep. Kevin Cramer are potential contenders to lead energy and environmental agencies. Photos courtesy of Twitter.

President-elect Donald Trump said most of his remaining Cabinet announcements will be made next week, a signal that he could be ready to name chiefs for U.S. EPA and the Interior and Energy departments.

Trump told Fox News reporter Ainsley Earhardt last night in an interview that additional Cabinet announcements are “coming up literally very soon, and people are loving our choices so far, we’re going to have an amazing Cabinet.”

He said during the interview that aired this morning, “They’ll be starting next week bigly. … We have some tremendous people, tremendous people that are coming on. We’re getting credit for having one of the great Cabinets ever picked. These are people of great distinction, great success, which is what you need. … You’ll be seeing almost all of them next week.”

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Trump has already named his picks for top jobs including attorney general and secretaries of Transportation, Commerce, Health and Human Services, Transportation, Education, Defense, and Treasury.

Still remaining beside EPA, Interior and DOE are openings for leaders at the Agriculture Department, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Labor Department, the White House Office of Management and Budget, and other key administration jobs.

Trump’s pick for secretary of State could be up next. He’s been criticized by some on the right for considering former Massachusetts Republican Gov. Mitt Romney. Also rumored to be in the mix are former New York City Republican Mayor Rudy Giuliani, retired Gen. David Petraeus and Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.).

Trump’s campaign promises and his selections for transition team members in environmental agencies suggest he’ll steer drastic shifts from the Obama administration when it comes to energy and climate policies.

Leading contenders

Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence have already met with several officials who are rumored contenders for some of the remaining vacancies.

On Monday, two prospects for EPA administrator, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt (R) and former Texas environmental regulator Kathleen Hartnett White, visited Trump Tower (Greenwire, Nov. 28).

Another state attorney general, Patrick Morrisey of West Virginia, is an often-mentioned contender for EPA leader. Like Pruitt, he has been fighting the administration’s Clean Power Plan in court.

Any of those candidates – and many others floated as possibilities – would represent a drastic change in the agency’s leadership, and would be expected to roll back many of the climate policies the Obama team put in place.

At EPA, for example, Trump has pledged to obliterate the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan to curb power plants’ greenhouse gas emissions. He picked a prominent global warming skeptic, Myron Ebell, to head the transition for that agency. And yesterday, Trump named a Colorado free-market think tank leader who proudly wears a “Mothers in Love with Fracking” shirt to join Ebell’s team (E&ENews PM, Nov. 1).

EPA isn’t technically a Cabinet-level job, but it’s been given Cabinet-level status by previous administrations.

For Interior, Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R) appears to be a leading contender for secretary. She met with Trump last week, when they discussed “transportation, infrastructure and issues relating to Western land usage,” according to the transition team (Greenwire, Nov. 21).

Retiring Wyoming Republican Rep. Cynthia Lummis, another potential Interior contender, also met with Trump last week. And Trump has discussed public lands issues during meetings with Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) and former Oklahoma House Speaker T.W. Shannon (R) (Greenwire, Nov. 22).

Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who met with Trump last week, is said to be in the running for Energy secretary (Greenwire, Nov. 21).

One of Trump’s top advisers, oil tycoon Harold Hamm, said yesterday that he’s prodding Trump to pick North Dakota Rep. Kevin Cramer for the DOE job (E&ENews PM, Dec. 1).

Heitkamp, Manchin ‘have a lot to contribute’

Other possible candidates for top energy jobs include Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), who is scheduled to meet with Trump today.

Trump spokesman Jason Miller declined to say today whether Heitkamp or Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) – another rumored candidate for a Trump administration job – are under consideration for specific posts.

“I think it would be too premature to go and say that specific administration roles are being discussed with either,” Miller told reporters today. “Obviously, Sens. Heitkamp and Manchin are both very highly respected political leaders who have a lot to contribute to the national conversation and how we move our country forward.”

In addition to the Heitkamp meeting, Trump is scheduled to sit down today with Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.); Jay Cohen, a retired Navy rear admiral and former Homeland Security Department undersecretary; former Defense Secretary Robert Gates; Florida Republican Attorney General Pam Bondi; former U.S. Ambassador John Bolton, who is a rumored contender for secretary of State; and David Malpass, president of Encima Global and a Trump economic adviser.