Editor’s note: On Dec. 7, 2016, President-elect Donald Trump picked Scott Pruitt, who opposes major clean air rules and doubts climate science, to lead the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
What would happen if someone dedicated to undermining the agency that protects America’s clean air and water was put in charge of running it? We may be about to find out.
Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt is reportedly another leading candidate along with Kathleen Hartnett White for the job of administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Pruitt, who met with President-elect Donald Trump in New York on Nov. 28, has used his current position to try to block some of the EPA’s most important air-quality rules.
On his own LinkedIn page, he boasts that he “led the charge with repeated notices and subsequent lawsuits against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for their [sic] leadership’s activist agenda.”
Tries to block every EPA rule he sees
Since becoming Oklahoma’s top legal officer in 2011, Pruitt has sued the EPA to stop vital protections for public health – including standards for reducing soot and smog pollution that crosses interstate lines; protections against emissions of mercury, arsenic, acid gases and other toxic pollutants from power plants; and standards to improve air quality in national parks and wilderness areas. Each time he failed.
These common-sense efforts to cut pollution will save lives, prevent dangerous brain-development issues in children, reduce asthma attacks and increase productivity. Yet, Attorney General Pruitt has apparently never seen an EPA rule that didn’t prompt him to run to court to have it blocked.
Not surprisingly, Pruitt has also questioned ”the degree and extent of global warming and its connection to the actions of mankind.”
He claims, falsely, that the climate “debate is far from settled” and that “scientists continue to disagree about the degree and extent of global warming and its connection to the actions of mankind.” A vast majority of scientists, of course, agree that climate change is happening, and that it’s due to human activities.
Pruitt has played a leading role in lawsuits challenging the Clean Power Plan, the most important step our nation has taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Before the plan was even finalized, he went before Congress to call on states to flout the law.
In Pruitt’s view, “no state should comply with the Clean Power Plan if it means surrendering decision-making authority to the EPA.”
Receives big bucks from fossil fuel industry
Given Pruitt’s attacks on pollution limits, you won’t be shocked to hear that he has received strong support from those who produce that pollution.
Since 2002, he’s received more than $314,996 from fossil fuel industries. He was also caught sending letters to President Obama and federal agency heads that had been written by energy industry lawyers.
The New York Times uncovered an e-mail exchange between Pruitt and energy industry officials that “offers a hint of the unprecedented, secretive alliance that Mr. Pruitt” and others created with some of America’s leading energy producers to attack EPA rules. The newspaper reported that the efforts included significant campaign contributions to various attorneys general.
The agency charged with enforcing our environmental laws should be led by someone who is committed to its missions and free from conflicts. The new head of the EPA must be guided by science, respect our environmental laws, and prioritize public health ahead of the wishes of well-funded special interests.
Unfortunately, Pruitt and others the president-elect is considering for the job appear to fail this test on all counts.