What does it mean if your senator votes to confirm Scott Pruitt to lead the Environmental Protection Agency?
In many cases, supporting a cabinet nominee is an educated gamble – making a best guess about what the person will do once in office. But with Pruitt there is no uncertainty in the wager – we are drawing dead. He is well known as an aggressive opponent of the EPA’s clean air and water rules.
Any senator who votes to put him in charge of the EPA does so knowing what will happen next: dismantling clean air and clean water safeguards. More toxic mercury in our lakes and rivers, more asthma attacks for kids from increased smog, and less protection for American families.
Sometimes nominees become famous after they are selected by the president, as opponents dig up information to stall their confirmation. That’s not the case with Pruitt, who was well known for attacking the EPA long before his selection. In fact, he built his political career by suing the EPA and raising money from companies that would benefit from looser pollution rules. He even bragged on his LinkedIn page that he is a “a leading advocate against the EPA’s activist agenda.” (Yes, apparently state attorneys general keep up their LinkedIn pages.)
Pruitt has been very plain about his view of the EPA, saying it “was never intended to be our nation’s frontline environmental regulator.” He has even questioned whether mercury pollution – which is known to cause brain development problems in children – poses a “public health hazard.” These were not comments found in hacked e-mails, but very public pronouncements. And they have received a great deal of additional attention since his nomination.
All of this has not sat well with people who care about the environment and public health. Christine Todd Whitman, who ran the EPA under President George W. Bush, said Pruitt is “disdainful of the agency and the science behind what the agency does.”
President Donald Trump purposely chose a high profile opponent of the EPA’s mission, apparently to fulfil his pledge to cut rules and safeguards by 75%. In other words, this is not a subtle choice meant to readjust the EPA’s focus. It is a very loud attempt to make reckless cuts at the nation’s top environmental agency. It’s a signal no senator could possibly have missed.
All of this means senators who vote to confirm Pruitt bear responsibility for what he does in office. The American people – who care very deeply about clean air and clean water – should hold those senators accountable. Environmental organizations will work to make sure they do.
On Twitter @RealKeithGaby
Originally posted on Voices for Action