Trump picks heads for homeland security, environment agency

Retired Marine Corps General John Kelly (top) could be the next secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, while Oklahoma Attorney-General Scott Pruitt (bottom) could head the EPA.
Retired Marine Corps General John Kelly (above) could be the next secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, while Oklahoma Attorney-General Scott Pruitt could head the EPA.
Retired Marine Corps General John Kelly (top) could be the next secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, while Oklahoma Attorney-General Scott Pruitt (bottom) could head the EPA.
Retired Marine Corps General John Kelly could be the next secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, while Oklahoma Attorney-General Scott Pruitt (above) could head the EPA.

WASHINGTON • United States President-elect Donald Trump has picked a fossil fuel industry defender as his top environmental official and another retired general as homeland security chief - appointments that triggered dismay among environmentalists and those concerned about the number of top military brass in Cabinet-level jobs.

Mr Trump's transition team also announced that the President-elect planned to nominate professional-wrestling executive Linda McMahon to head the Small Business Administration.

Continuing to build his Cabinet as he prepares to take office on Jan 20, Mr Trump said on Wednesday that Oklahoma Attorney-General Scott Pruitt, 48, would be nominated to head the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) - his most controversial choice thus far.

Mr Pruitt has sued the EPA in a bid to undo a key regulation under outgoing President Barack Obama that would curb greenhouse gas emissions blamed for climate change, mainly from coal-fired power plants.

Mr Trump said in a statement yesterday: "For too long, the (EPA) has spent taxpayer dollars on an out-of-control anti-energy agenda that has destroyed millions of jobs."

Mr Pruitt would "reverse this trend and restore the EPA's essential mission of keeping our air and our water clean and safe", he said.

Mr Trump tapped retired Marine Corps General John Kelly, 66, for secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, whose responsibilities include immigration, the third retired general he has named to a senior administration post.

Last year, Mr Kelly told Congress that a lack of security on the US-Mexican border posed a threat to the US.

Mrs McMahon, 68, is the former chief executive officer of professional wrestling company WWE and wife of wrestling kingpin Vince McMahon. Mr Trump has taken part in WWE events in the past, has close ties to the McMahons and is a member of the WWE Hall of Fame.

All four posts require Senate confirmation. Mr Pruitt's selection came despite a softer tone Mr Trump has struck on environmental regulation since his Nov 8 election.

He has stepped back from casting climate change as a hoax, signalled he might be willing to allow the US to continue participating in the Paris climate change deal aimed at lowering world carbon emissions, and met former Vice-President Al Gore, a leading environmental voice.

Mr Pruitt's selection brought a quick rebuke from the Democrats.

"The head of the EPA cannot be a stenographer for the lobbyists of polluters and Big Oil," said House of Representatives Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi.

Mr Kelly is the third military leader that Mr Trump has named to his administration, on top of retired Marine Corps General James Mattis as defence secretary and retired army Lieutenant-General Michael Flynn as national security adviser.

The former four-star general would head a department in charge of securing borders against illegal immigration and coordinating intelligence and counterterrorism.

Mr Trump is also considering former general David Petraeus for secretary of state. He is expected to announce his choice for the key post next week.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 09, 2016, with the headline 'Trump picks heads for homeland security, environment agency'. Print Edition | Subscribe