An Open Letter to New EPA Chief Scott Pruitt: You're Not in Oklahoma Anymore

02/17/2017 06:02 pm ET

Dear Mr. Pruitt:

On Friday, in a near-partisan vote, the Senate confirmed you as the next administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. It’s sad to say, but this is the darkest moment in the history of an agency that for 46 years has worked to ensure that Americans drink clean water, breathe healthy air and are protected from dangerous toxic chemicals.

As Oklahoma attorney general, you filed or supported more than two dozen lawsuits against the very agency you now must lead. Most notoriously, you sought to block the EPA's efforts to combat climate change. But you also opposed initiatives to protect children from mercury poisoning, and reduce air pollution that causes asthma and thousands of premature deaths, among other measures to protect public health. In your home state, you did little or nothing to curb water pollution from toxic manure discharged by big chicken and pig farms.

In your confirmation hearing you could not name a single EPA regulation you thought was a good idea – not even removing lead from gasoline.

The day before your confirmation, an Oklahoma judge ordered the release of 3,000 emails between your office and the fossil fuel industry next week. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell decided Americans did not have the right to know what was in those emails before the confirmation vote. For now, we can only speculate about their contents, but your record shows you have collaborated with polluters with the same coziness Gen. Michael Flynn displayed as he communicated with Russia's ambassador about election tampering.

There has never been a nominee for EPA administrator opposed so strongly by environmental and public health advocates, scientists, and hundreds of current and former EPA officials. We are determined to fight back against what we expect will be an unprecedented assault on public health and the environment. But we also have a word for you:

You’re not in Oklahoma anymore.

It is shameful that someone with your anti-environment record and philosophy has been handed the most important environmental job in the world. But you will not get a free pass to trash America’s air and water as you did in Oklahoma, when you claimed that the interests of polluters were synonymous with the interests of the people of your state.

You will not get a free pass to ignore science or muzzle scientists. You will not slash the EPA budget as you slashed environmental enforcement in Oklahoma – not without a fight.

You will not degrade or subvert the rule of environmental law that represents one of America’s distinctive contributions to the welfare of our planet just to please your polluter cronies, their friends in Congress or their cheerleader in the White House.

Why? Because the American people will rise up and fight you every step of the way.

Our nation’s leadership in environmental protection is a prime example of what has made America great again and again and again – for decades. We have no intention of standing by while you dismantle that hard-won legacy at the behest of fossil fuels or elected fools.

We aren’t going anywhere, Mr. Pruitt. And you are not in Oklahoma anymore.

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