Our air, our water and families' health: Too important to leave to Pruitt

Today the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee is slated to vote on President Trump's nominee Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to head the Environmental Protection Agency.

If the committee gives Pruitt the green light he'll move one step closer to overseeing the federal agency empowered to ensure clean air and clean water for all Americans. Unfortunately, the EPA is also the agency that Mr. Pruitt has worked diligently to undermine.

President Trump's selection of Scott Pruitt may be good politics, but his appointment would create a public health disaster. Our bedrock environmental laws passed congress decades ago with broad bipartisan support. The Clean Air Act passed in 1970 unanimously, save one vote. The Clean Water Act was wildly popular when it passed. Republican president Richard Nixon established the EPA to enforce these and other environmental protections. Years later the agency's authority was strengthened by another Republican president, George H.W. Bush. Today, as in the past 4 decades, protecting our air and water and ensuring the health of our families enjoys strong support not only from elected officials but also by a majority of Americans regardless of party affiliation.

Scott Pruitt's track record as Oklahoma Attorney General paints a bleak picture of what his leadership of the agency would mean for American families and our environment. Pruitt joined polluters in a staggering 14 lawsuits against the very agency he is hoping to lead. These suits aimed to dismantle critical public health safeguards including the Clean Water Rule that would protect drinking water sources for 117 million Americans and the Mercury and Air Toxic rule that protects our kids and other vulnerable citizens from highly damaging pollution. As Attorney General, Pruitt delayed legal action to clean up major poultry pollution plaguing his state's waterways. He led the opposition to EPA's Clean Power Plan which set the first ever national limits on carbon pollution. AG Pruitt even dismantled the environmental control unit in his own office. And these are only examples.

Pruitt's tenure as attorney general set environmental protections backwards not forward. Shockingly it has been difficult to find anything AG Pruitt did to protect the health of the Oklahomans during his time in that office. As Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey noted during Pruitt's confirmation hearing, Oklahoma has been ground zero for asthma problems, which affect 1 in every 10 kids in the state. Pruitt couldn't name one time that he filed a case in support of kids with asthma.

Mr. Pruitt's knowledge of science --- which should underpin all decisions made by the EPA --- is lacking as is his familiarity with some of the most basic and pressing issues facing the agency he hopes to direct. He has said human caused climate change is a matter of "continuing debate." He had no comment on how much lead in drinking water could harm humans nor on the potential health impacts of exercising outdoors on a day with poor air quality. In fact, Scott Pruitt could not identify one EPA safeguard that he actually supports.

Ironically, Scott Pruitt's loyalty to fossil fuel interests is easy to identify. Pruitt accepted approximately $350,000 from the fossil fuel industry including the infamous Koch Brothers. And more than once he put his official attorney general letterhead and his signature on letters objecting to EPA policy written by oil companies and sent them to the agency he is now hoping to oversee.

Scott Pruitt is outside the mainstream in his actions and views on protecting our air and water, stopping the worst impacts of climate change and keeping our families healthy. The vast majority of Americans support a clean and healthy environment and the rules and laws designed to keep it that way.

Americans deserve an EPA administrator who will fight to protect the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the planet we love. Scott Pruitt fails on all these accounts. We're calling on our Senators to stand with science, our families' health, clean water and clean air. The Senate must reject President Trump's nomination of Scott Pruitt to head the EPA.

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