Tyler Hill with the Kentucky Student Environmental Coalition, a network of students from 22 high school, college and university campuses, says Trump's pick of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt "actively misleads the public" through an anti-climate change viewpoint.
As Attorney General for oil and gas-rich Oklahoma, Pruitt has sued the EPA and criticized the agency for what he calls "unnecessary regulations". "Under the current administration, our industry is facing a barrage of 145 regulations that would unnecessarily destroy jobs and add costs to consumers".
In New York, Hudson Valley Democratic Congresswoman Nita Lowey, ranking member on the House Appropriations Committee, said Trump's appointment "is as egregious as it is reckless".
If approved as head of the EPA, Pruitt will be in the conflicted position of defending - or not defending - the agency against the eight lawsuits that are still pending, including one that seeks to strike down President Obama's Clean Power Plan rules.
"He's not interested in the very basic principles upon which EPA operates, which people depend on day-to-day for cleanup of their air and water, hazardous sites, and maintaining a safe climate".
He added: "One little head-fake with the New York Times or a meeting or two doesn't negate the fact that he has taken just about every opportunity to appoint people to his transition team and now to nominate an EPA head - these are folks who don't believe that climate change is real, don't think that the United States government should continue its role in public health, and side with the fossil fuel industry over the American public".
Jeb Bush tweeted that Pruitt will "reform an out-of-control EPA".
"We are going to get rid of it (the EPA) in nearly every form", Trump said during the GOP debate in March 2016. Scott Pruitt, whose own bio describes him as 'a leading advocate against the EPA's activist agenda' can not be trusted to head the EPA, an agency charged with protecting all Americans from threats to their water, air, and health.
After choosing Scott Pruitt, Trump has given a clear indication of nullifying a host of regulations associated with the climate legacy of President Obama.
"Mr. Pruitt, like Mr. Trump, laughs at the public even as he calls himself a servant of working families", said Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ).
Many vowed to make noise about Pruitt's nomination.
The Environmental Defense Fund said Pruitt was "a deeply troubling choice" and Pruitt "has built his political career by trying to undermine EPA's mission of environmental protection".
Boettner also noted, while market forces have played a large role in natural gas displacing coal, government-funded research - some of it in Morgantown - helped develop the hydraulic fracturing techniques that have partly driven the huge increase in domestic gas production.
The news was predictably welcomed by the oil industry, while predictably causing outrage among environmentalists.
His nomination comes at a critical time for the agency and its effort to regulate the fuel consumption and emissions of cars and light trucks.
"[Pruitt] pretty much admits that the EPA is not the driver in the decline of the coal industry, yet rails about the impact of the Clean Power Plan on the coal industry", Van Nostrand said. "Pruitt's testimony concedes this point".