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Trump’s EPA Choice a Critic of Carbon Emissions Plan


Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt arrives at Trump Tower in New York, Dec. 7, 2016.
Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt arrives at Trump Tower in New York, Dec. 7, 2016.

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump on Thursday picked a global warming skeptic and staunch ally of the fossil fuel industry to head the country's Environmental Protection Agency.

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt has been a key critic of President Barack Obama's plan to address climate change by slashing carbon emissions from the nation's power plants.

In a statement, Trump said, "For too long, the Environmental Protection Agency has spent taxpayer dollars on an out-of-control anti-energy agenda that has destroyed millions of jobs, while also undermining our incredible farmers and many other businesses and industries at every turn."

Pruitt was one of the officials from 27 states who filed a lawsuit in January seeking to block the Clean Power Plan, under which the EPA called for states to create 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 increase.

The Republican Trump said he "will reverse this trend and restore the EPA's essential mission of keeping our air and our water clean and safe."

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., center, speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington.
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., center, speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington.

Sanders reacts

Pruitt's nomination drew immediate opposition from Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who lost the race for the Democratic presidential nomination to Hillary Clinton, the former U.S. secretary of state Trump defeated in last month's election.

"If you are interested in the profits of the oil industry, I suppose it's a good thing," Sanders told VOA's Michael Bowman. "If you are interested in preserving the planet for future generations, it's a disastrous pick and has to be opposed."

Sen. Bernie Sanders on Trump's Choice of Pruitt as EPA Chief
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WATCH: Rep Keith Ellison on Trump's cabinet picks

Rep. Keith Ellison on Trump's Cabinet Picks
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McMahon to lead Small Business Administration

The president-elect also named former wrestling executive Linda McMahon to lead the government's Small Business Administration. She and her husband Vince McMahon founded and built the popular World Wrestling Entertainment company and were major Trump campaign donors.

Also, Trump chose Andrew Puzder, a vocal critic of a big increase in the country's $7.25 an hour minimum wage and other worker protections, to head the Labor Department. Puzder is the chief executive of a chain of fast-food restaurants, including Carl's Jr. and Hardee's, with more than 3,600 outlets in the U.S. and throughout the world.

Trump continued to weigh his choices for secretary of state, often the face of the country in contentious foreign affairs negotiations. He met in New York with retired Navy Admiral James Stavridis, now a dean at Tufts University in Boston, who is being considered along with 2012 presidential contender Mitt Romney, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, former Central Intelligence Agency chief David Petraeus and others.

Ohio visit

Trump met with survivors of last week's attack at Ohio State University, in Columbus, where a Somali immigrant who authorities say was inspired by Islamic State rhetoric rammed his car into several students before slashing several with a knife, injuring 11.

Trump made control of the country's borders one of his signature campaign pledges. At a post-election rally last week elsewhere in Ohio, he said that lax immigration policies by "stupid politicians" led to the "violent atrocity" at Ohio State.

"We will do everything in our power to keep the scourge of terrorism out of our country," Trump told the crowd. "People are pouring in from regions of the Middle East. We have no idea who they are, where they are, what they're thinking. And we're going to stop that dead cold flat."

'Thank You' Tour Stop in Iowa

Late Thursday, Trump visited Des Moines, Iowa for another rally with his supporters as part of his "thank you" tour of states he won in the election. He formally introduced former Iowa Governor Terry Branstad as the next U.S. Ambassador to China to the cheering crowds, and promised to cut taxes, create jobs, build a wall at the border with Mexico and strengthen the military.

Meanwhile, the president-elect also plans to continue making hit television. A spokesman for Celebrity Apprentice creator Mark Burnett said that while Trump will no longer appear on the reality show, he will continue on as executive producer.