The train wreck of the incoming Trump administration continues. Mr. Trump’s nomination for Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ― his first important environmental appointment ― is Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt. This disastrous appointment promises to “Make America Polluted Again” and makes real Trump’s campaign promise to dismantle the agency.
Pruitt, a devout champion of fossil fuels and a climate change denier, has made a career out of opposing environmental protection in general, and opposing the EPA specifically. He is anti-science, anti-federal, and anti-regulatory. He is currently suing the EPA to overturn the U.S. Clean Power Plan ― a plan that may be our last chance to control carbon emissions and stabilize climate. He is suing EPA over its proposed plan to regulate methane emissions, as well as other toxic air contaminants. He joined other Republican Attorneys General to oppose the Exxon climate fraud investigation. In Oklahoma, Pruitt has been little more than a puppet for the fossil fuel industry.
It is difficult to imagine a nominee that is more antithetical to everything the EPA stands for and does than Pruitt. And that is precisely why Trump nominated him. This is most certainly not “bringing the country together,” as the president-elect has promised.
It seems Mr. Trump’s well-publicized recent meeting with former Vice President Al Gore was just more Trump reality TV theater. It was just more make-believe by Trump, pretending to have “an open mind” on climate change. Either Mr. Trump didn’t listen to Mr. Gore, or simply doesn’t understand the issue, or more likely both.
If confirmed, Pruitt would effectively dismantle the nation’s environment agency, precisely when we need the agency most. His confirmation could set us back 50 years in our standards for clean water, clean air, and control of toxic contaminants. We may as well lock the doors and turn out the lights at EPA, and let the free-market corporate polluters run the show again, as they did in the environmental Dark Ages of the ‘50s and ‘60s. Many of the hard-won federal environmental protections over the past four decades would be at risk.
Even former republican president Richard Nixon, who created the EPA in 1970, will squirm in his grave over this appointment.
The Pruitt nomination is so egregious that many think it may simply be a “trial balloon” from Trump, testing how far he can push his anti-regulatory agenda in Congress. Hopefully, not this far.
Pruitt’s confirmation would signal that U.S. industry cannot compete in the 21st century global business world of high environmental standards – and that is nonsense. Effective environmental standards are a cornerstone of 21st century economic development, and the U.S. has been a global leader in such. But all of this progress is at risk if Mr. Pruitt were to be confirmed.
All of us should value clean water, clean air, climate stability, and protection from toxic chemicals. Hopefully, the Senate will not confirm this dangerous appointment.