Editor’s note: This post was updated on Jan. 3, 2017.
If his campaign and transition are an indication, President-elect Donald Trump’s method is to generate daily spectacles and outrages – each one distracting the public from the last, until chaos is the new normal.
So where should we put our focus?
His most radical action on the environment so far is to choose Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to lead the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. No federal program is more important for our environment and Pruitt has built his political career around attacking the agency. Protections for clean air and water are now clearly at risk.
How bad is he? Well, here are four of his most disturbing actions so far:
1. He’s not a good neighbor.
Pruitt sued the EPA in 2011 to stop the “good neighbor rule,” which reduces hazardous soot and smog pollution that crosses state lines. You’d think someone claiming to stand up for “state’s rights,” as Pruitt says he does, would want to protect each state from the pollution produced next door – which they have no way to limit without EPA rules. Apparently not.
2. He blocked policies to limit neurotoxins.
Pruitt also went to court to block policies to reduce toxic mercury, arsenic and acid gases from power plants, even though most coal plants and other facilities emitting such pollution were already on track to comply with the standards. All three are seriously dangerous to our health, but mercury may be the worst because of its devastating impacts on the brain development of children.
3. He fought clean air standards for national parks.
For years, tourists to the Grand Canyon complained about haze obscuring the view of one of the world’s seven natural wonders. That didn’t stop Pruitt from suing to block standards requiring power plants near this and other national parks and wilderness areas to cut pollution that creates such haze. The U.S. Supreme Court turned him down.
4. A climate skeptic, he wants to kill the Clean Power Plan.
Pruitt says he doubts “the degree and extent of global warming and its connection to the actions of mankind.” Apparently he doesn’t believe the scientists at NASA and all other major scientific organizations who know that pollution is causing dangerous changes to our climate. Pruitt has played a leading role in lawsuits, and called on states to resist the Clean Power Plan before it was even finalized.
Not surprisingly, his nomination has raised questions even among some who don’t always agree with the EPA.
What can you do about it?
Start out by e-mailing your senators. Then call them. Then post on their Facebook page. Then do it again tomorrow. Set your calendar to do something every day.
Do the same thing with your congressperson, who has influence with the senators. Ask your local elected officials to do the same. If you can get a day off work, make an appointment to meet with the senator’s staff in your state to express your concerns.
Most of us aren’t used to doing this kind of activism. But these aren’t normal times. It’s time to focus and fight, and your kids and grandkids will thank you for it.