By Randy Francisco, Sierra Club
Just a couple months on the job and polluter friendly U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt strikes yet again, putting many American families and their health at risk by announcing that he wants to get the EPA “back-to-basics” today– an ironic announcement, considering that he made it at a mine in our community that has been polluting our water. Well, we know that “back to basics” is just code for sending the EPA back to the bad old days before the Clean Water Act and the Clean Air Act. After all, he chose to launch his polluter-friendly agenda at this mine that was fined $3 million for Clean Water Act violations just last year, for dumping contaminated mine wastewater into tributaries of the Ohio River.
What we are seeing from Pruitt and what we know from his record should open up all of our eyes to the real threats they pose to the health of our families and our communities. As Oklahoma Attorney General and at the EPA, Pruitt has a record of putting the profits of corporate polluters before the health of the public. It’s clear he wants to go back to the days of letting fossil fuel companies pollute without accountability or public health safeguards.
As Oklahoma Attorney General, Scott Pruitt led the charge to try to dismantle our most basic clean air and water protections (like safeguards that cut dangerous smog pollution and keep toxic mercury out of our water ) and he was the architect of years of relentless attacks on the EPA. He is a climate science denier.
In Oklahoma, Pruitt zeroed out the budget for protecting the environment and stopped enforcing environmental safeguards meant to keep Oklahoma communities healthy. He also got caught working hand in glove with the oil industry, going so far as to send letters to the White House with his signature and stationary that had actually been written by Big Oil lobbyists. When the state of Oklahoma had a chance to create new jobs by moving to clean wind energy Pruitt fought the proposal because of his loyalty to Big Coal polluters.
To put it simply: having Scott Pruitt in charge of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is like putting an arsonist in charge of fighting fires. He’s already proven that in his first few months in office under the Trump Administration. Under Pruitt’s watch, the Trump Administration has thrown out safeguards that keep toxic waste out of our rivers and streams, attacked clean air and climate protections that save thousands of lives, and launched assaults on the people and the places we love. Meanwhile, Pruitt and Trump want to cut the EPA’s budget by more than 30 percent.
The key mission of the Environmental Protection Agency is to ensure that all Americans — regardless of religion, race, or birthplace — can enjoy clean air to breathe, clean water to drink, and have their health protected from environmental and climate threats. Pruitt has made it clear that he he has no intention of fulfilling that mission, and that is dangerous for families in Pennsylvania and across the country.
We need an EPA Administrator who is guided by science and committed to protecting public health, not a puppet for the polluters who wants to go back to the bad old days of unchecked, dangerous corporate pollution. Pruitt’s record shows that he has put the profits of polluters before the safety of the public by attacking clean air and clean water safeguards over and over again . This toxic backdrop for Pruitt’s latest publicity stunt only proves his true priorities are with polluters, not people’s health.