Trump's EPA nomination has environmentalists turning green

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report with Bret Baier," December 8, 2016. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


SCOTT PRUITT, OKLAHOMA ATTORNEY GENERAL: This president has promised us many times, he has a pen and he has a phone, he's going to use the regulatory process to bypass Congress. And I'm so thankful that we have attorneys general across this country who have been the frontline holding the president accountable as he's acted in that fashion.

SEN. CHRIS MURPHY, D-CONN.: The idea that are going to do a 180 on climate policy I think is disastrous from a number of perspectives.

REP. CHRIS COLLINS, R-NY: It won't be abolishing the EPA, but they are going to be rolling back hundreds if not thousands of regulations.


CHRIS WALLACE, ANCHOR: Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt stating his opposition to President Obama's environmental regulations. As you could see, Democrats and Republicans with sharply different reactions to Trump naming Pruitt to be his EPA administrator.

Let's bring in our panel: Steve Hayes, senior writer for The Weekly Standard; editor in chief of Lifezette, Laura Ingraham, and Charles Lane of The Washington Post. Let's start with the nomination of Pruitt as EPA administrator. He says the debate over climate change is far from settled. He is part of several lawsuits against EPA regulations on greenhouse gas emissions. Laura, your thoughts about this nomination?

LAURA INGRAHAM, LIFEZETTE.COM: It's going to drive the left absolutely crazy, which it has started to do. I think they're going to fight this as hard as they fight anything the Trump administration puts forward. It goes to the heart of their argument that the planet is warming, cut greenhouse gas emissions, we will save the planet, the oceans won't rise, we won't have destruction along the coastline. And I understand that, but it's like the church of global warming has also in the eyes of many completely subsumed the idea that business still has to exist. There has to be a balance between protecting the environment and having business be able to operate, not unfettered, but with some degree of freedom or order to create jobs.

So does it surprise me that Trump picked him? Absolutely not. But they're going to have to be ready for the hearings and be ready with I think a responsible approach to the concern that we want an environment that's protected. But there are a lot of people out there, Professor John Christy, University of Alabama, peer reviewed studies -- he is not a climate skeptic. He thinks the earth is getting hotter. But he also thinks the dire predictions of the climate change are way over the top. Very respected, others like him. But there's intolerance on the other side as well.

WALLACE: Steve, when Trump met with Al Gore this week and then you got to remember when he met with The New York Times and said he had an open mind about climate change and the Paris Climate Accords, there were some conservatives who were wondering whether Trump had gone soft on environmental regulations. With the appointment of Scott Pruitt to run the EPA, was that a head fake?

STEVE HAYES, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: It very well it might have been. It's clear those concerns were unfounded. This is the person you'd want if you wanted to challenge the EPA. I mean, Pruitt is a thoughtful movement conservative who has been doing this for quite a while. He ran on it when he ran for attorney general in Oklahoma. He executed the plan that he ran on.

And he was creative in using the law to push back on federal regulations that many people, not just business people but average citizens around the country think go too far, not just on the EPA but on Obamacare and other things.

I think this is the kind of person you would want in the administration. It is funny to watch this liberal heads explode as this happens. Nobody should be surprised that Donald Trump is going to nominate somebody who basically agrees with the kinds of things that he has argued. Back when President Obama won and he was filling out his cabinet, selecting his top staffers and advisers, the left said we won. We get to make these choices. Donald Trump can make the argument he won. He gets to make these choices.

WALLACE: It is interesting as part of the Trump surge in the stock market, energy prices in the wake of this announcement went up.

I want to go with you, Chuck, to this question of the reaction by Democrats who seem to be more upset about this than any other nomination that Trump has made so far. Usually, in a transition there's one person that the opposition party looks to knock off because they can't go after everybody. Is this one? Is this the battle in the confirmation hearings?

CHARLES LANE, THE WASHINGTON POST: There's going to be competition for that honor. But don't forget, there's a lot of important money in the Democratic camp from Tom Steyer among others that flows in the Democratic Party based on environmental issues. So those kinds of people will really be arguing to take a stand on Scott Pruitt.

But here is the catch. There are a number of Democratic senators facing re-election in 2018 in red states or indeed in coal burning states, often the same thing. I'm thinking about people like Claire McCaskill, Bob Casey in Pennsylvania, Debbie Stabenow in Michigan, even someone like Sherrod Brown of Ohio who is very liberal but is a coal dependent state. And I think those folks will face a real dilemma in how to handle the future of the clean power plant to the extent it's an issue in this case.

So of course, the question will be, do we filibuster Pruitt? You are going to need 40 solid Democratic votes to do that. By the way, on the other side, there's at least one Republican I can think of, Susan Collins, who might have concerns.

WALLACE: I was going to say, there's the possibility of Republicans going to the Democratic side and opposing him. This is with the nuclear option that Harry Reid put into effect, 50 votes is what you need.

LANE: Of course, I forgot to mention, Joe Manchin of the coal state of West Virginia will probably like this appointment. So it's not exactly a straightforward partisan --

WALLACE: I want to ask you, Laura, about another pick that the president made today, and that was Andy Puzder, who is a fast food executive for Hardy's, Carl's Junior. He is an outspoken critic of Obamacare and its impact on workers and business, an outspoken critic of the minimum wage and administration overtime rules. What are your thoughts about his pick?

INGRAHAM: I think he is going to annoy both sides. I think he is extremely smart, obviously very accomplished, and I think you can make a case for him. However, on the issue of immigration and foreign workers coming into the United States, there's a lot of folks out there, Breitbart has a big piece tonight, that Puzder is not good on those issues, that he has kept wages very low at his company not just against the minimum but by having mostly immigrant workers in places like Carl's Junior. So is he opposed to one of the bedrock ideas that, of course, president-elect Trump ran on? So that is a concern. I've been getting lots of e-mails over the last several hours about this pick. So we will see how that shakes out. But it could be one of those odd picks that annoys both sides.

WALLACE: He is also a big exponent of automation and the idea that you can save a lot money by having machines, not employees. And one of his arguments is, if you make the cost of labor too expensive, people are just going to go do machines in places where they can.

INGRAHAM: We will see how well that works out.

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