Published in the Concerned Center City Citizens Review
Philadelphia, PA September 2018
By Joseph Batory
Scott Pruitt’s 16 months as EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) boss created a nightmare legacy for the United States. Pruitt’s anti-environment actions betrayed the very purposes of the EPA. And his well-documented array of unethical behaviors slapped USA taxpayers in the face.
Amazingly, when Pruitt finally resigned under fire, President Trump responded this way: … Scott is terrific. He has done an outstanding job, and I will always be thankful to him for this.”
Thankful for what? Trump chose to obscure the reality that Pruitt violated his primary job function of protecting our nation’s citizens from environmental dangers.
Instead of focusing on EPA responsibilities, Pruitt spent much of his time in office meeting privately with executives from the fossil fuel, agriculture and chemical sectors about how he could lessen environmental regulations.
Small wonder that Pruitt rolled back more than a dozen EPA regulations which prevent pollution and environmental hazards. Highlighting Pruitt’s disastrous tenure was the unraveling of federal restrictions on greenhouse-gas emissions and toxic waste discharge from coal-fired power plants. In addition, he refuted a recommended EPA ban on a commonly used pesticide linked to potential neurological brain damage in fetuses.
Pruitt denied mainstream climate science. He successfully lobbied Trump to withdraw the USA from the landmark Paris climate accord, discounting the overwhelming scientific consensus that human activity is the primary contributor to global warming.
Pruitt attacked the EPA vehicle emission standards set for 2025. Yet Bill Ford, chairman of Ford Motor Co., was a supporter of increasing clean air standards through 2025.
Aside from the environmental hazards of rolling back these regulations, Pruitt also ignored economic studies showing that by 2025 these clean air standards would actually create more than 100,000 jobs, add more than $130 billion to the gross national product, and save consumers more than $40 billion in annual fuel costs.
Pruitt refused to acknowledge that businesses worldwide are turning away from coal. Natural gas is currently the most clean and cost-effective fuel source for power plants while renewable energy is making impressive inroads. In fact, barely half of all coal plants earned enough money last year to cover their expenses, according to a report by Bloomberg Energy Finance.
Ironically, Pruitt, an avowed evangelical Christian, was involved in a wide array of ethics scandals during his time in office, becoming a poster boy for the antithesis of his supposed religious convictions.
Pruitt wasted more than $100,000 of taxpayer money on unnecessary first-class air travel claiming that he needed additional travel seclusion/protection. Pruitt’s paranoia also included using taxpayer money to install a $43,000.00 soundproof phone booth in his office. He demanded round-the-clock security, a 20-person team costing millions of dollars. Agents who previously investigated environmental crimes were now providing security for Pruitt in dangerous places like Disneyland and the Rose Bowl as well as running personal errands for him.
In another shady deal, a Washington oil lobbyist provided Pruitt with an absurdly low rental (50.00 per day) of a very expensive condominium in DC.
So the “terrific” Pruitt is now just an ugly piece of history. And Trump has now given us a new “terrific guy,” a biased coal advocate, Andrew Wheeler, who is likely to continue to wreak even more havoc on the environment for future generations. Our “terrific” president is advocating a policy of pollution and moral irresponsibility which will only lead to environmental disaster for present and future generations.