By Valerie Volcovici and David Shepardson
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt, the conservative former attorney general of Oklahoma, is interested in replacing Attorney General Jeff Sessions if that job becomes available, sources with knowledge of the matter said on Friday.
President Donald Trump has openly criticized Sessions for months, provoking speculation that the attorney general might resign or be fired. The EPA chief would likely accept the position if offered to him by Trump, a source close to Pruitt told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Pruitt was the runner-up to Sessions for the attorney general post when Trump was first assembling his Cabinet, according to the source.
Jahan Wilcox, an EPA spokesman, said, "Administrator Pruitt is solely focused on implementing President Trump's agenda to protect the environment."
As EPA chief, Pruitt has worked to overturn a number of environmental policies put in place under Republican Trump's Democratic predecessor Barack Obama and was instrumental in the U.S. decision to walk away from the 2015 Paris global climate change accord.
(Reporting by Valerie Volcovici and David Shepardson; Editing by Will Dunham)