“It’s the worst thing in the history of our environment!” Isaacs exclaimed when I spoke to him on Wednesday. “We are in danger. The whole country is in danger. Our kids are in danger. People have got to do something about the Citizens United decision that is turning our country into an oligarchy, run by oil-and-gas interests,” he said.
Isaacs is a colorful and respected local litigator who has long been a thorn in the side of Oklahoma’s powerful. He claims the fossil-fuel industry “owns the whole darn state.” But his worries at the state level are now national. By choosing Pruitt, Isaacs said, Trump has outsourced his environmental policy to the Republican Party’s most powerful private donors—the oil-and-gas magnates who have funded Pruitt’s campaigns in Oklahoma.
Until now, Pruitt’s greatest claim to national fame was his star role in a Pulitzer Prize-winning by the , in 2014. The investigation revealed that a letter Pruitt sent to the E.P.A in 2011, complaining about federal regulators’ estimation of the air pollution caused by drilling in Oklahoma, was actually written by lawyers for Devon Energy, one of the state’s biggest oil-and-gas companies. (“Outstanding!” the company’s director of government relations wrote in a note to Pruitt’s office.) The found that Pruitt had sent similar letters, drafted by energy-industry lobbyists, to the Department of the Interior, the Office of Management and Budget, and President Obama. Pruitt has also taken a lead role in coördinating a twenty-eight-state legal challenge to the Obama Administration’s regulations on fossil-fuel pollution, which are at the center of its larger effort to stem climate change.
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