Photo: Scott Pruitt is a "very divisive figure" whose visit could spark protests, Greenpeace warns. (Reuters: Yuri Gripas)
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A climate science critic and one of the most controversial figures in the Trump administration will soon tour Australia in a visit environmental activists are likely to target with protests.
- Critics accuse Pruitt of trying to weaken the EPA
- Liberal backbencher Craig Kelly says Australia should welcome Pruitt "with open arms"
- Greenpeace says visit could spark protests and is not helpful for Australia as it tackles climate change policy
Lawyer Scott Pruitt was last year handpicked by Donald Trump to head the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Critics accuse the former Oklahoma attorney-general of trying to weaken the EPA since assuming his role as administrator in February.
The ABC has confirmed the Republican politician is scheduled to fly to Australia this year, joining other Trump administration figures who have already made the journey, including Vice-President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Secretary of Defence James Mattis.
Federal Government backbencher and climate change sceptic Craig Kelly has welcomed Mr Pruitt's impending visit.
"The head of the EPA in the United States of America is a very high ranking and prestigious position and if he's got time amongst his busy schedule to come and visit us down in Australia we should welcome him with open arms," Mr Kelly said.
"We'd be interested to hear exactly what's happening in the US, hear from Mr Pruitt — he's right at the coalface there."
Greenpeace warns Pruitt visit may prompt protests
Photo: Scott Pruitt's appointment raised alarm bells among US environmental activists. (Reuters: John Gress)
Environmental activists say the EPA administrator's visit is not helpful for Australia as it grapples with how to act on climate change.
"His visit could potentially attract some protests, he's obviously a very divisive figure," warned Alix Foster Vander Elst, a campaigner with Greenpeace Australia Pacific.
"To have someone who supports the fossil fuel industry at the head of the Environmental Protection Agency in the US is obviously extremely unproductive and upsets many people.
"So if this is something that incites protests or rallies against this I wouldn't be at all surprised".
Mr Pruitt's supporters, such as Mr Kelly, warned any protests against the EPA boss would be unhelpful.
"We should be very respectful to all overseas guests and we should hear firstly what he has to say," Mr Kelly said.
The US embassy in Canberra has so far declined to comment on the visit, and the EPA has not responded to questions from the ABC.
In April, Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg met with Mr Pruitt as well as US Energy Secretary Rick Perry during a visit to Washington.
"We discussed important energy and environment issues of mutual interest to Australia and the United States," Mr Frydenberg said.