Yesterday, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, who has been picked to run the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, submitted written answers to the Senate committee considering his nomination.
For senators who hoped Pruitt’s troubling past was behind him – his record includes suing the EPA 14 times to block clean air and water safeguards, and taking money from the companies who would benefit from looser pollution rules – the answers must have been alarming.
Here are 10 of Pruitt’s most disturbing points. The EPA nominee:
1. Refused to explain why his Senate testimony on the threat of toxic mercury was directly contradicted by lawsuits he filed against EPA – together with mercury polluting companies. Claims in these lawsuits cast doubt on health harms from mercury.
2. Refused to name a single Clean Air Act safeguard that he supports.
3. Would not agree that every American should have a right to clean air, pure water and healthy food.
4. Would not promise to support existing EPA safeguards on mercury pollution and air toxics from power plant smokestacks, ominously saying he’d enforce it as long as it “remains in force.”
5. Offered no plans, beyond the bare minimum, to address pollution disproportionately hurting poor and minority neighborhoods.
6. Continued to promote misinformation about the state of climate science.
7. Refused to commit to support California’s long-standing authority to have stronger clean cars guidelines – despite a career of calling for states’ rights on environmental matters.
8. Described a very limited role for the EPA, backing away from its historical and successful role of protecting public health and the environment.
9. Evaded a question on whether a stronger smog standard was necessary. Smog is a key contributor to increased asthma attacks.
10. Would not agree to address his actual and potential conflicts of interest beyond the minimum required by outdated rules. This is especially important because Pruitt was revealed to be in “unprecedented, secretive alliance” with big energy interests while Oklahoma attorney general.
Pruitt’s answers demonstrate that his troubling record is an accurate guide to how he would act as EPA administrator. If he’s confirmed, no senator who supported his nomination will have the right to act surprised at the damage he does.