Fulfilling the EPA’s Mission, In Spite of PruittBy Ansje Miller
Last week, the Senate approved Donald Trump’s pick of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt as the new chief Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency in a 52-46 vote, mostly along party lines. In the end, Senator Susan Collins from Maine was the only Republican who voted no (you can thank her via twitter @SenatorCollins for putting the health of children first – and you can express your disappointment to Joe Manchin (@Sen_JoeManchin) and Heidi Heitkamp (@SenatorHeitkamp), the only Democrats who voted with Republicans for Pruitt).
Pruitt was confirmed despite his refusal to fully answer many Senators’ questions about his track record of siding with corporate polluters over health and environmental protections. In his confirmation hearing, Pruitt could not name a single EPA regulation that he supported. The confirmation occurred just hours after an Oklahoma judge found in favor of Democratic Senators who called for the release of thousands of Pruitt’s emails related to his communication with the oil, gas, and coal industry. The Senators who opposed Pruitt suspected that the emails would show a pattern of collusion between Pruitt and the oil and gas industry, in opposing EPA protections. Turns out they were right: the emails, now online, provide a detailed record of the long history of Pruitt’s cozy relationship with industry. The collusion was first reported in 2014, when the New York Times found that a letter that then-Oklahoma attorney general Pruitt sent to EPA accusing the agency of overestimating air pollution from oil and gas orations was actually written by Devon Energy, one of the state’s largest oil and gas companies.
Now that Pruitt has been confirmed, we have to wonder, what will a Pruitt EPA look like? Will the regulations be written by the very industries that the agency is supposed to be regulating? Will enforcement be overseen by polluters who put profits before people’s health?
If so, we’ll be fighting it tooth and nail.
But before it comes to that, we hope that as Pruitt takes leadership of the EPA, he will learn from the many resources from within the agency, and through your voice, that people across this country depend upon the EPA. Top staff at EPA representing the agency’s science, health and other employees have called on Congress to resist Pruitt’s attempts to weaken the agency’s mission. Their letter provides concrete information on EPA’s mission and value. CEH stands with the EPA staff’s efforts to keep America’s children and families safe from harmful chemicals in our air, water, and food. Together we will fight Pruitt’s toxic agenda!
CEH will hold Pruitt accountable for using the latest science in protecting children, workers, pregnant women, and other vulnerable Americans from dangerous chemicals. We will push for strong protections from toxic chemicals, including implementation of the updated federal chemical safety act, safeguarding existing programs that inform consumers like Safer Choice, and support states’ rights to protect their residents when the EPA fails to act. Finally, we will continue to press for the EPA to regulate and reduce carbon emissions, both because of the disastrous health impacts on communities burdened by fossil fuel infrastructure and the long-term consequences on our climate.