President Donald Trump surprised a number of people by choosing Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to run the department that takes care of the environment.
Critics have voiced disapproval toward his stance on climate change. However, in his confirmation hearing, Pruitt said he did not believe that climate change is a hoax. He also said the issue is open to debate.
"Science tells us that the climate is changing and that human activity in some manner impacts that change," Pruitt said. "The ability to measure with precision the degree and extent of that impact and what to do about it are subject to continuing debate and dialogue, and well it should be."
Pruitt's nomination has been the focus of much debate.
According to the Evangelical Environmental Network, a growing number of pro-life Catholic and evangelical leaders from across the country have asked the president to withdraw his nomination in favor of someone with a "more even handed record of protecting human life from pollution."
Prior to his confirmation hearing, The New York Times labeled him a "climate change denialist."
Oklahoma state Rep. Tim Downing disagrees.
"I think those concerns are misguided and could be ill-informed, and I say that because if anyone has actually heard the comments from General Pruitt, you'll hear him often use the term, 'regular.' He'll say regulation should be 'regular,' and what he means by that is the government should not pick winners and losers, that regulation should make an even playing field for multiple sectors of any industry," Downing told CBN News.
Downing, who served under Pruitt as an assistant attorney general, describes the work ethic of his former boss as "relentless."
"You really see in him a man that is driven; he wants to do a good job for the people. He believes what he is doing is a calling and so I believe you see a man who, when he wakes up in the morning, he has an extra burst of energy because he knows what he is doing is important," Downing said.
Before being elected Oklahoma attorney general, Pruitt worked in the state Senate for eight yeas. While there, he worked to defend religious freedom and to pass faith-based legislation.
Now, as he looks toward the EPA, opponents are pointing out Pruitt's history of legal battles against the very agency he's been tapped to lead.
Pruitt has sued the EPA, accusing it of government overreach. Supporters say he'll bring balance to the agency.
"I think that Scott's position is strong. I think that he is, he's just the kind of guy that's going to take and balance everything," said Dr. Anthony Jordan, from the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma.
"There will be those who will come after him because he has taken these positions in the past, but I don't think that's going to deter Scott at all. He's going to be faithful again to the laws of the land," Dr. Jordan continued.
Dr. Anthony Jordan is one of nearly 50 evangelical leaders supporting Pruitt. They wrote, "We believe that Attorney General Pruitt has been misrepresented as denying 'settled science,' when he has actually called for a continuing debate. This is in the very best tradition of science."
Other supporters say it's the story behind the man that makes him a good choice to help President Trump change Washington.
Pruitt has been attending church at First Baptist Church in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, for nearly 30 years. He's a deacon, and his pastor says he has a solid Christian faith.
"Every time we come to pray for him, not only is it a great privilege to pray for the needs he's facing, but we're always amazed... his biblical insight into something he's facing," said his pastor, Rev. Nick Garland.
"Well, to get insight you got to spend time with God. To get biblical insight, you got to know chapter and verse," he continued.
Fellow deacon, Carlyn Mattox, agrees.
"Early on, it was just unusual how much wisdom Scott had for such a young man in his faith and how he could articulate those things about the Gospel and share his faith with other people that could lead people to Christ," Mattox told CBN News.
Another deacon, Bob Wagoner, served as Pruitt's first campaign director when he ran for state Senate.
"He was really a man of prayer; every step he took... he felt like God was directing him, which I think He was," he said.
Wagoner believes Pruitt is a man of great faith and a gifted listener who will bring unity in a climate of division.