By Pete Altman, Natural Resources Defense Council
Opposition to Donald Trump’s pick for US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is pouring into Congress from a wide range of organizations representing a millions of Americans with diverse interests. Why is Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt attracting so much concern?
It could be his consistent record of siding with industry over public health, frequently choosing positions which benefited companies funneling money to Pruitt’s campaign, his PAC or groups he was raising money for (see here, here and here.) Or that he’s a climate denier. Or that his record includes no positive environmental achievements – as my colleague John Walke tweeted yesterday, out of more than 700 press releases from Pruitt’s office, not one touts any action to enforce environmental laws.
This video does a great job of outlining why Pruitt is unfit to run the EPA.
If you’d rather read in depth, my colleagues John Walke and Jon Devine have outlined Pruitt’s bad record on air and water protections. Pruitt doesn’t just try to weaken protections – he’s literally fought to overturn and block measures that would keep dangerous pollution out of our air and water.
These are all reasons why NRDC opposes Scott Pruitt’s confirmation. We stand in good company: here’s a rundown of other groups and individuals urging the Senate to reject Scott Pruitt:
– Hundreds of national and state environmental, faith, health, consumer and other organizations have signed letters – one with over 500 signers, another with 173 – opposing Pruitt. The latter summarizes the reason for opposing him: “Scott Pruitt’s views and actions run counter to the EPA’s critical mission to protect our health and the environment. This makes him unfit to administer the laws he would be entrusted to enforce. The Senate should reject his nomination.”
– Nearly three thousand health professionals from all fifty states plus territories are urging Senators to vote against Pruitt’s confirmation, because “Mr. Pruitt has shown himself to be openly hostile to the EPA’s mission of environmental and health protection” by [working] “to undermine the EPA’s vital contributions to public health,” “undercut protections from climate change,” and for having “served as an instrument of the oil and gas industry.”
– Interfaith group leaders had this to say: “We are concerned that Pruitt as head of the EPA would put vulnerable communities at risk for environmental harm and prioritize polluters over human health. As faith organizations, we therefor urge you to carefully investigate, thoroughly question and consider rejection of the appointment of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, who has a demonstrated history of ties to special-interest groups, has fought against the very agency he may head, and has worked at cross purposes for healthy communities and a healthy environment.”
– Evangelical leaders wrote a separate letter, outlining the many environmental threats Americans and children face, then concluded “Given these threats to the vulnerable, who as Christians we are called to defend, we ask you to withdraw Attorney General Pruitt as Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The EPA Administrator plays a crucial role in defending all of us from the health consequences of pollution, especially vulnerable populations like the unborn, children, the elderly, those with heart and lung conditions, and others with special susceptibilities. Mr. Pruitt’s past actions suggest he would not defend the vulnerable from pollution.”
– Thirteen former state environmental officials expressed concerns from their unique points of view, saying “Rather than EPA acting as our partner in state-led efforts to ensure clean air and water for our residents, we fear that an EPA under Mr. Pruitt would undermine the rules that help to make sure that our state regulations are successful.”
– The BlueGreen Alliance, a coalition of labor and environmental groups, wrote that “Someone who has dedicated his career to going after our nation’s bedrock environmental and public health laws—the very health protections that the EPA is mandated to protect—is not suited to run the EPA.”
– Environmental justice organizations challenged Senators to “Please name one achievement by Scott Pruitt, as Oklahoma State Attorney General, that has improved the environment or protected civil rights. Don’t bother to Google it because the answer is NONE.” Their letter concluded with “There is nothing in Mr. Pruitt’s record as Oklahoma State Attorney General to indicate that he would be sensitive to and willing to help communities throughout the United States, where African Americans and other people of color disproportionately suffer and die from unhealthy environmental conditions, which also contribute to climate change. For all of the reasons stated above, we urge you to take a stand in opposing the confirmation of Mr. Pruitt as EPA Administrator.”
– The American Sustainable Business Council, representing 250,000 businesses, explained its opposition from a business perspective, saying “Scott Pruitt’s selection as Administrator lays out the welcome mat for polluters at EPA. Since its inception in 1970, the EPA, whether under a Republican or Democratic administration, has sought to balance environmental stewardship and economic goals. Business leaders across the economy understand that environmental regulations are essential for economic growth and that they help to improve the quality of life in communities. However, Mr. Pruitt has demonstrated, time and again, that he is an outlier on this view and is inadequately concerned about these issues.”
– Clean Water Action focused on Pruitt’s deplorable record on water, noting that “As Oklahoma Attorney General, Mr. Pruitt was one of the first state AGs to sue EPA to overturn long overdue safeguards for vital water resources that feed the drinking water sources for at least one in three people, including 2.3 million people in Oklahoma.”
– The National Parks Conservation Association, which is dedicated to preserving and protecting our national parks, weighed in as well: “Mr. Pruitt has a track record of undermining the stewardship of America’s national parks, extraordinary places that must have the clearest air and cleanest water in the country…The nomination of Mr. Pruitt comes at a critical time for addressing air and water pollution and climate change in our national parks. It is the duty of EPA to help safeguard park resources; national parks and the communities surrounding them deserve a leader of the EPA that is committed to protecting and enhancing them. NPCA is confident that Mr. Pruitt is not that nominee.”
Combined, these groups represent a pretty diverse array of Americans, from a wide variety of backgrounds and perspectives, arguing that Scott Pruitt is the wrong person to safeguard our health and our children’s future. Question is, will Senate Republicans listen and protect their constituents or will they bow to Donald Trump?