4 most disturbing things about Scott Pruitt and the EPA

Keith Gaby

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.


I believe climate warming is just a money scam. I support Scott Pruitt and I hope all the government funding that is wasted on this scam is halted. I am tired of government interference. Thank you for taking my comment. God bless and Merry Christmas.
Ed and Edna Master.

December 14, 2016 at 7:15 pm

Merry Christmas!

Keith Gaby
December 16, 2016 at 11:31 am

In reply to by ed

When climate change fanatics are using junk science and manipulated data, of course you are exaggerating it. The data of the U.S. Geological Survey has been manipulated since 1996 (Clinton/Gore administration: How much did they pay to manipulate this data?)

And since it is exaggerated you must stop saying that climate change deniers are against science, because we aren't. We just knew that the fanatics were using it to manipulate people – isn't the whole purpose of manipulating data to fool people? Some of you were really fooled, but there were also those of us who thought your statements were really exaggerated. Turns out, the climate change deniers were right again: http://naturalresources.house.gov/uploadedfiles/hearing_memo_--_ov_hrg_…

So get some decent science and then re-visit and explain truths to people without exaggerating. The USGS has shown itself to be propagandists, not scientists. Thanks.

December 15, 2016 at 12:06 am

The world's climate scientists and all major scientific organization recognize that greenhouse gas pollution is causing dangerous changes to our climate. See the list here: http://climate.nasa.gov/scientific-consensus/

Their conclusions are based on decades of hard data.

Keith Gaby
December 16, 2016 at 11:36 am

In reply to by Linda

Hi Linda,

All data requires interpretation and logical assumptions in order to assess their validity and define their applicability to a complex world.

Climate change science is based on a huge amount of data that has been collected over decades. You are right for implying their is some uncertainty involved with climate science. While certainly there is room for interpretation for the IMPACT of climate change and the uncertainty of certain specific risks, what the general consensus is across the range of 99% of researchers is that the impact will be large and one that will cause negative effects on humans - both economically and politically.

Now the magnitude of this effect and the size of that risk can be of debate, but the science in which you quote is largely backed by people who have a HUGE monetary interest in blocking changes that would mitigate the inherent RISK of climate change.

I would ask you why is clean energy a bad thing for YOU? Why is it worth it for YOU to take that huge risk? What do YOU gain? Even taking climate change out of the equation. Why is limiting not only CO2 released by burning coal but also toxic metals - lead, mercury, cadmium - sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide a bad thing for YOU? Surely I can see why it's a bad thing if you had billions of dollars invested in coal plants, but your general well being and the well being of your children in the future would be more secure if we pursued cleaner technologies.

The economic impact of such an endeavor on the U.S. as a whole would be beneficial as it would stir innovation, create jobs, and build infrastructure that we could use for decades to come. The reason the Republicans oppose this so strongly is they receive huge donations from big time polluters who's interests diverge from the population as a whole. Their interests diverge from YOUR interests, but they have created fringe interpretations of the data in order to validate a view that is not consistent with the reality of the risk that we face. That you face. The U.S. government spends about the same amount of money on coal and oil subsidies as it does on renewable energy. If we fail to invest properly in renewable energy now, we will fall drastically behind other nations.

You use the word propaganda do describe climate science. But if you look at the individuals who promote the science you have chosen to validate you will find that they are backed by individuals who have interests that are not your own. And that has led them to the interpretations they have chosen.


December 18, 2016 at 11:32 am

In reply to by Linda

Hi Linda,

The link you placed is a memo sent out to senators prior to the subcommittee hearing on data manipulation at the U.S. Geological Survey, a branch of the U.S. department of the Interior.

It makes reference to two specific instances in which a mass spectrometer used to detect levels of metals in water samples was miss calibrated by a single individual, potentially yielding false results on the levels of heavy metals within those samples. This was done unilaterally by that individual and the department has since taken measures to remedy this and prevent it from happening in the future.

Read the following statement by the U.S. Geological Survey as part of their testimony at the hearing:


This has nothing to do with climate change science. These are tests for heavy metal contamination, mostly coming from private and public samples in relation to coal plants.

While this is a serious issue, focusing on a single instance of data manipulation undertaken by a single individual in relation to an unrelated environmental issue(heavy metal water contamination) in order to delegitimize the world wide scientific community regarding climate change is not reasonable.


December 18, 2016 at 3:12 pm

In reply to by Linda

Stop Trump's pick for the EPA - save our world.

Arlene Brown
December 15, 2016 at 10:07 am

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