Pruitt's first 100 days at the EPA: His most alarming actions so far

Keith Gaby

Columnists across the political spectrum have been calling President Trump names – questioning his discipline, knowledge and focus. No one can say the same things about Scott Pruitt.

Indeed, as we approach Pruitt’s 100th day as leader of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, it’s clear that he is nothing like the president. And that, ironically, makes him even worse for our health and environment.

Scott Pruitt is highly disciplined, skillful and focused – and obsessed with his mission of advocating for big polluters and undermining the EPA’s historic role of protecting public health. Now that he’s in charge of the agency, he’s methodically pushing to gut rules that limit pollution, hobble enforcement of clean air and water laws, and shove aside unbiased scientific guidance.

In contrast to the often-dysfunctional White House, Pruitt has been laser focused. In his first 100 days, he has:

  • begun the process of abandoning the Clean Power Plan, America’s only national limits on carbon pollution from our largest source. This will allow the power plants to emit unlimited amounts of this pollution – leading to more asthma attacks and a more dangerous future for our children.
  • taken aim at the Mercury and Air Toxics Rule, which reduces dangerous neurotoxins that harm children’s brain development. Pruitt is opposing it even though virtually all power plants in the country now comply with the rule, demonstrating that none of the fear-mongering about cost and reliability problems we heard from industry were true.
  • actively been lobbying the White House to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement, a move that would hurt our economy and cede American leadership to China and Europe. We would join only two other countries in the world – Nicaragua and Syria – on the outside of this global system, potentially inviting tariffs on our exports. In true Alice in Wonderland fashion, the EPA administrator is reportedly lobbying the coal industry to support withdrawal from the climate agreement.
  • appeared to be trying to shut out neutral scientific advice. He’s declined to reappoint half of a scientific advisory board, with some reports indicating he may choose more industry-friendly advisors instead. On his watch, the EPA has removed key pollution and climate data from its web site. Pruitt also claimed on CNBC that carbon dioxide is not “a primary contributor to the global warming that we see” – flatly contradicting the scientists at NASA, every major American scientific organization and his own agency.
  • paved the way for the Trump administration’s call for a 31-percent cut to the EPA budget – more than what any other federal agency faces. If enacted, it would dramatically reduce protections against pollutants such as mercury, lead, smog, and carbon pollution; undermine enforcement of the Clean Air and Clean Water acts; and reduce cleanup of toxic waste sites. It will result in more asthma attacks for kids, more health problems for elderly Americans, accelerated climate change and more pollution in our lives.
  • slowly been stocking his agency with appointees with serious conflicts of interest. A few examples: Nancy Beck moved from the chemical industry’s main lobbying organization to be the highest political appointee at the EPA office overseeing the chemical industry. Justin Schwab, now a top lawyer at the EPA, previously represented a coal utility. Christian Palich, a lobbyist for a coal industry group, was appointed to a senior position in the EPA’s Congressional relations office.  

The fact is, the EPA has saved countless lives and made America dramatically cleaner and healthier by sticking to sound science, seeking smart solutions to limit pollution, and enforcing the law. In his first 100 days, Scott Pruitt has turned the agency’s mission on its head.

Estimates suggest that if he is able to fully enact his agenda, about 130,000 Americans will die prematurely due to air, water and toxic pollution. So while America will survive Scott Pruitt’s tenure at the EPA, we know that many Americans won’t.

Comments

Democrats tried to not allow Scott Pruitt to become this, as they knew what he was and what he might do! Unfortunately, we have no way of stopping any of them as the Republicans own the whole works! Maybe some of their misguided voters will see the damage they have caused to our nation and the world! It is our wake-up call. We all must vote in each and every election, and we must stay informed about every person seeking power. Knowing actual facts and history helps to do the work

irma Polney
May 26, 2017 at 2:22 pm

I can't rationalize why Republicans are so hell-bent on ruining planet Earth not just for future generations, but for today's inhabitants. The other day I was reading that Stephen Hawking says we have about 100 years to find a new planet to move to before Earth becomes uninhabitable due to climate change and overpopulation. We shouldn't allow the stakes to become so dire before acting. Responsible human beings won't allow Earth to shake us off.

Asra
May 26, 2017 at 10:20 pm

I don't know why they would do this to us especially to children and adults who have asthma and and other illnesses could dye.
SHAME ON YOU!!!!!

Robin Schutz
May 26, 2017 at 10:22 pm

What are these estimates you cite about increased death? Link please?

Alex P
May 27, 2017 at 7:36 am

Hi Alex and thank you for wanting to learn more about the data. We don't have a link to point you to, but here's how EDF staff calculated the estimate of 130,000 deaths:

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's analyses of avoided cases of premature mortality from major Clean Air Act rules provide the basis for our estimate of the potential deadly consequences of Scott Pruitt's efforts to roll back these rules. In Regulatory Impact Analyses, the EPA models the expected health and economic benefits of new clean air regulations, including a range for premature deaths avoided as a result of reduced ozone and fine particulate matter (PM2.5) pollution.

EDF based its analysis on EPA's upper estimates for avoided premature deaths per year from the Clean Power Plan (CPP), Mercury & Air Toxics Rule (MATS), and 2015 Ozone Standards — major Clean Air Act rules that Scott Pruitt has clearly targeted for rollbacks.

EPA's estimates for each rule are based on a given year. For the CPP, the agency modeled avoided deaths in years 2020, 2025 and 2030 (to capture the impacts of gradually tightening emission targets). For the MATS rule, the EPA modeled avoided deaths in 2016. For the new Ozone Standards, it modeled avoided deaths in 2025.

To provide a rough estimate of the potential consequences of rescinding or weakening these rules, EDF assumed that: 1) the rules provide no health benefits (zero avoided deaths) before the EPA's modeled years; 2) avoided deaths per year remain constant after EPA modeled years and 3) avoided deaths are additive from rule to rule.

Our estimate of potential deaths from Clean Air Act rule rollbacks are simply the number of EPA-projected deaths that would no longer be avoided in the absence of these clean air safeguards.

Based on the EPA's official analyses and these assumptions, EDF estimates rescinding the CPP, MATS rules, and 2015 Ozone Standards could therefore contribute to more than 130,000 deaths over the next decade (2017-2027) that would otherwise be avoided.

Hope this is helpful!

Keith Gaby
May 30, 2017 at 2:11 pm

In reply to by Alex P

Thanks, it is! Very reasonable (and conservative) estimates... unbelievable that these rules would be rolled back. Our nation needs better regulatory resiliency.

Alex P
May 31, 2017 at 9:02 am

In reply to by Keith Gaby

He should be charged with crimes against humanity as should most of Trump's cabinet and the POTUS himself.

Karen Bartle
May 27, 2017 at 1:30 pm

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