If you thought bringing fossil fuel lobbyist Samantha Davis and science denier David Schnare on board at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency was bad, Administrator Scott Pruitt’s pro-polluter posse has gotten even bigger. As reported by the New York Times, Pruitt is filling his new agency with staff drawn heavily from the offices of his friend, Senator James Inhofe, one Congress’s most infamous science illiterates and snowball throwers. Amanda Gunasekara, the person who handed Inhofe that infamous snowball, will now be advising Pruitt on air and climate issues. Aside from being an outspoken critic of the Obama administration's Clean Power Plan, Gunasekara has also publicly vowed that Republicans would “pick apart” the Paris climate agreement after President Obama signed it. Ryan Jackson, once Inhofe’s chief of staff, will now be Pruitt’s chief of staff. Byron Brown, who led multiple investigations against the EPA for Inhofe, will serve as Jackson’s deputy. Meanwhile, Andrew Wheeler, a fossil fuel lobbyist who is also a former Inhofe chief of staff, is a finalist to be Pruitt’s deputy. Wheeler played a key role in helping Inhofe defeat climate legislation in the Senate in 2008.
Others slated to slide into senior positions are a pair of Trump campaigners from Washington State: Don Benton, a former state senator who will be the agency’s senior liaison to the White House, and current senator Douglas Ericksen, who has fought against legislation to reduce climate-killing pollution in his state. Ericksen, by the way, is in line to be the regional administrator of the EPA’s Pacific Northwest office. Wait, there’s more. David Kreutzer is yet another Trump transition official likely headed to the EPA soon. Kreutzer is a senior fellow at the polluter-funded Heritage Foundation who favors more Arctic drilling and claims that increasing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is good for the planet. (It’s not.) With friends of Pruitt like these, this agency has all the enemies it needs.