I just need to figure out what company I would like to run. Here’s the plan: I determine what company I would like to run … I’m thinking perhaps the New York Times or the Boston Globe … or perhaps something more high-tech, like Google or Apple. Then I sue that company 14 times … might cost a bit up front, but in the long run it should pay off. After the 14th lawsuit, I will be asked to run the company! Hey … it worked for Scott Pruitt! He sued the Environmental Protection Agency 14 times, and now he sits at its head!
Remember the big brouhaha last year about Hillary Clinton’s emails? They called it, improperly, a ‘scandal’, but it turned out to be nothing of the sort. Still, the Republicans tortured and tormented us all with the non-news of the non-scandal and it likely played some part in her loss on November 8th, thanks to the Trump-Putin team and the media. Well, Scott Pruitt has his own email scandal, and this one may well turn out to be scandalous. But, we will not know until it is too late, as he has already been confirmed by the senate in a 52-46 vote, and was sworn into office on Friday. Interestingly, two Democrats voted ‘yea’ — Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota.
The emails in question are ones Pruitt exchanged with oil and gas industry heads while he was serving as Attorney General for the state of Oklahoma. He has been refusing for two years to hand over the emails, but on Thursday, an Oklahoma judge ordered him to release the emails no later than next Tuesday. Senate Democrats sought to delay the confirmation vote until the emails had been reviewed, claiming that his relationship to the oil and gas industry is questionable, but the senate went ahead with the vote, and common sense lost yet another battle.
Back in December, when Trump first announced his choice of Pruitt to head the EPA, I wrote that it was nothing less than a disastrous choice. I have heard nothing that has made me change my mind, and that which I have heard has merely confirmed what I already suspected: Pruitt has every intention of hobbling the EPA as the Chinese once hobbled women’s feet.
Hundreds of former EPA staff members wrote an open letter against his appointment, some calling him an “unqualified extremist”.
Environmental campaigners see him as an oil and gas industry puppet who is “lukewarm” on the threat posed by climate change – they fear that hard-won environmental regulations will be overturned. As previously noted, freshman Republican Representative Matt Gaetz introduced a bill to end the EPA by the end of 2018, however that bill is not likely to pass even the House, though its simple verbage is chilling:
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
The Environmental Protection Agency shall terminate on December 31, 2018.
By most accounts, Gaetz’ bill is not likely to be taken seriously by many. No, the real threat to the EPA comes from its own newly-dubbed chief, Pruitt.
Pruitt’s lawsuits against the EPA have often been in conjunction with the fossil fuel industry, attempting to overturn EPA air and water regulations – regulations designed to protect the planet we live on from future destruction. It is expected that Trump and Pruitt together will ‘turn the clock back’ on both through a series of executive orders, cuts in staffing, and legislation. It has been reported that Pruitt has simply copied and pasted suggested language from an energy company onto state letterhead, and then sent it to the EPA.
Pruitt is expected to slow or reverse previous legislation tightening federal standards for vehicle emissions, water quality and pollution at power plants. He describes himself as a “leading advocate against the EPA’s activist agenda”. He is partially funded by the oil and gas industries, having received at least $270,000 in ‘donations’ over the years, probably more.
Pruitt’s right-wing ideology goes beyond just areas of environment. He has been highly critical of the Supreme Court for refusing to support Oklahoma’s proposed definition of “marriage as only the union of one man and one woman”, and in 2014 he joined a lawsuit targeting California’s prohibition on the sale of eggs laid by caged hens. Losing that, he later announced that he would investigate the Humane Society of the United States, one of the principal proponents of the California law. He lost in both cases, as the courts ruled the suit was acting in the interest of egg farmers, rather than the general public. However, it proves a couple of things … like his new boss, he is a believer that the best way to solve differences and problems is via lawsuit, and that he supports business and industry over and above the public interest.
Pruitt has a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Georgetown College in Kentucky, and a J.D. from the University of Tulsa. Neither have any relation to science, yet he believes he knows more than all the climate scientists when he says about climate change and man’s involvement/responsibility: “the extent of that [human] impact is subject to continuing debate and dialogue.”
It is fully expected that Pruitt will quickly dismantle the Clean Power Plan, the linchpin of the United States’ plan to meet its obligations under the Paris climate agreement to lower carbon dioxide emissions from power plants by about 30 percent over the coming decades. The effects of such a move will be two-fold: first, it will reverse progress made by the U.S. in the past decade to make a positive contribution toward a healthier, more sustainable environment. Second, it will cause the U.S. to lose respect of the other 200 nations involved in the Paris Climate Accords who counted on the U.S. to uphold the agreement and do its part.
Trump and Pruitt have made clear their priorities, which are to open pathways for unscrupulous businesses to bypass current clean air and water regulations in order to maximize their profits, with complete disregard for the environment, for the earth and atmosphere, and for the people who inhabit the earth. It is yet another shame in the cap of the 115th Congress and the man-who-would-be-king that Scott Pruitt is now the head of the EPA. A damn shame.