By Mae Wu, Natural Resources Defense Council
President Trump’s nominee to lead the agency will do nothing to protect public health or the environment. He doesn’t know even the most well established science on public health. He will roll back the vital public health protections that have taken decades to put in place. Just watching his nomination hearing told us this. His written responses to Senators’ question after the hearing confirm it.
Pruitt sits by while Oklahoma’s children suffer from sky-high asthma rates.
Oklahoma has one of the highest rates of childhood asthma in the country. As Attorney General in Oklahoma, Scott Pruitt did nothing to enforce the laws that were designed to reduce asthma. But he did side with polluters to sue the EPA to stop regulations that would have reduced asthma attacks in his state and around the country.
Pruitt won’t stop lead contamination in water, homes, or playgrounds.
Health professionals – but not Scott Pruitt – have long known that there is no safe level of lead. The crisis in Flint, Michigan opened the country’s eyes up to the horrors of unsafe tap water containing high levels of lead. It’s a basic fact that lead pipes have to come out of the ground to ensure that there is no lead in tap water.
Scott Pruitt did not know that there is no safe level of lead when asked at his hearing. Scott Pruitt does not talk about the importance of getting lead pipes out of the ground when fixing the drinking water rules.
But it’s not just drinking water that he could leave contaminated. EPA has said that it needs to and will update the levels at which contaminated soil and dust ought to be cleaned up. The current levels are based on outdated science. The agency committed to update them to incorporate the best new science. Pruitt thinks that the current EPA clean-up levels for lead contaminated dust and soil are “appropriate.”
Pruitt will allow more pollution from oil and gas.
Oil and gas exploration and development cause air pollution and contaminate drinking water and threaten public health. EPA scientists have been calling for more data on air emissions and threats to drinking water.
As Oklahoma’s attorney general, Pruitt sued EPA to stop regulations that would reduce air pollution from oil and gas operations.
Pruitt picks helping industry over saving lives.
EPA regulations to reduce smog would save hundreds of lives every year. Pruitt sued EPA to stop the new regulation. Pruitt sided with industries’ desire to pollute more over Americans’ right to clean, safe air and an overwhelming medical consensus that the smog health standard needed to be strengthened to deliver healthy air.
Pruitt views EPA’s role as protecting industry over children or vulnerable people.
As Oklahoma’s chief law enforcement officer, Pruitt attacked EPA rather than protect vulnerable people. He eliminated the state’s budget for environmental law enforcement (including environmental crimes), and instead created a unit to attack EPA.
He stated that he sees EPA’s only role as solving pollution disputes between states, but even there he has a poor track record. Oklahoma’s “crown jewel” scenic river was being contaminated with out-of-state pollution. Before he became the Attorney General, the state brought a lawsuit to stop that pollution. Once he took over, he let the lawsuit languish – filing nothing in more than six years. He has also let the upstream, out-of-state polluters delay implementing controls for years instead of taking them to court.
Pruitt won’t commit to transparency about industry-funded science.
The source of funding in scientific studies introduces a risk of bias on the results and conclusions in favor of the sponsor’s interests. Recognizing this, many scientific review committees recommend that conflict of interest be considered as an independent item when assessing bias in these studies.
Under questioning from the Senate, Scott Pruitt was asked whether he agreed that for science to be credible, scientists must disclose all sources of funding for their research. Instead of acknowledging the importance of the sources of funding in science, he dodged with a non-answer. He simply repeated his boilerplate answer and said that he would “commit to follow applicable legal authorities regarding scientific research.”
Reject Scott Pruitt
Every member of the Senate needs to ask themselves this: Can I count on Scott Pruitt to protect my children and grandchildren from lead, asbestos, pesticides, toxic chemicals? Can I count on Scott Pruitt to stand up to companies that make those toxic substances? NO. and NO.
The Senate should reject Mr. Pruitt’s nomination.