Fracking pioneer Harold Hamm on Thursday said Donald Trump couldn't have picked a better person to lead the Environmental Protection Agency than Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt.
But that endorsement will do little to ease concerns among environmentalists and Democrats concerned about Pruitt's climate change denial and close ties to the energy industry.
Hamm, the CEO and chairman of Oklahoma City–based driller Continental Resources, is a longtime ally to Pruitt. He chaired the attorney general's re-election campaign in 2013. The following year, Pruitt teamed with the Domestic Energy Producers Alliance — which Hamm chairs — to sue the federal government over its plans to determine the listing status of 251 animal species.
Pruitt alleged the federal government had used untoward tactics to reach "friendly settlements" with an environmental group that itself sued the feds after they missed a deadline to make the listing determinations.
Hamm was concerned an endangered listing for one of those species, the lesser prairie chicken, would make it harder for drillers to access oil and gas resources, The New York Times reported.
Trump "continues to pick awfully good candidates for all the Cabinet posts. He's following through with what he told American people," Hamm told CNBC's "Closing Bell" on Thursday.
On the campaign trail, the President-elect promised to roll back energy regulations in a bid to boost oil and gas production — though U.S. output has declined dramatically since last year due to a global crude glut caused in large part by a boom in American drilling.
Pruitt has close connections to other energy firms as well.
In 2011, he accused the EPA of overstating the amount of pollution caused by new natural gas wells in a letter that was drafted by Devon Energy. The incident was part of a broader, secretive alliance between a number of state attorneys general offices and drillers, The New York Times revealed in a Pulitzer Prize–winning investigation.