By Niki Vetter
A group of 447 former Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) employees sent a letter to the U.S. Senate in an effort to stop President Trump’s nominee for the EPA administrator, Scott Pruitt. Those who object Pruitt’s nomination cite his poor environmental record in addition to his inability to adequately respond to questions during his hearing as evidence that he is not fit to lead the EPA.
As Attorney General of Oklahoma, Pruitt consistently worked against the EPA and challenged the EPA standards to reduce smog in cities, reduce haze in parks, and limit mercury emissions from power plants. Throughout his term, he had a total of 714 press releases and not one of them indicated that he had taken action to enforce environmental laws or to reduce environmental impact on Oklahoma. On top of this, Pruitt closed the environmental enforcement unit in his office, making it nearly impossible to enforce environmental laws, which is a large portion of how the EPA protects the environment. During his Senate hearing, Pruitt was questioned about 3,000 emails and other documents that indicated that he communicates with oil and gas companies. These emails were requested to be made public over two years ago under the Freedom of Information Act, and although his office has acknowledged this request, they have yet to release them to the public.
Despite the Democratic boycott of Mr. Pruitt and the disapproval by the Environmental and Public Works Committee, Senate Republicans have pushed forward and confirmed his nomination. The EPA is the backbone to protecting human health and the environment in the United States so it is shocking that someone who has a seemingly “anti-EPA” agenda has been confirmed to chair this agency. However, during Pruitt’s hearing, he stated that he wished for a smaller agency and believes that individual states should have the ability to create their own environmental regulation. To address concerns that he is working in the interests of oil and gas companies, Pruitt stated: “We must reject as a nation the false paradigm that if you’re pro-energy you’re anti-environment, and if you’re pro-environment you’re anti-energy.”
Even more shocking is the recent bill introduced in the House of Representatives to terminate the EPA all together. The bill had been referred to a committee on Science, Space, and Technology and the chairman of this subcommittee is a representative of the 5th district of Arizona, which is comprised of Chandler, Gilbert, Queen Creek, some of Mesa, and other areas. If you live in the 5th district and have concerns about this bill, you can contact Representative Andy Biggs directly to voice these concerns.
For more, visit congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/861.