"Pruitt would completely undermine the essence of the Environmental Protection Agency, and would be the last individual appointed to lead it... Right?"
By: Shreeya Indap
The current state of affairs of the American government is frankly shocking the entire nation and the rest of the world. Along with disorganized executive orders and blatant “alternative facts” spread in press meetings, there’s been a surprising, well not that surprising, increase in candidates simply unqualified for their jobs. This includes not having experience and, even worse, having ideologies that completely contradict the purpose of the department or agency they’ve been confirmed to lead.
Arguably one of the most important divisions in our government is the EPA, or Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA was created “for the purpose of protecting human health and the environment by writing and enforcing regulations based on laws passed by Congress”. Essentially, this agency’s goal is to protect the environment at all costs, or watch the next generations suffer the consequences.
Since 1970, the EPA has worked with smaller scale reductions of harmful substances and enforcing acts or plans to cutback on detrimental environmental impacts. Along the most impactful of these have been:
Especially since 2009 till the end of Obama’s term, these actions have been vital for maintaining the current state of our environment and ensuring that more damage will not occur. In this day and age, preserving the environment is, or should be, one of our top priorities. The same conclusive data points have been repeated persistently by climate scientists and left-wing politicians, that climate change is a real, critical, and dangerous issue. But with the ties our current president and administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency’s party has with the oil and fossil fuel industry, it’s not surprising that they are in no hurry to acknowledge the problems caused by climate change.
Just like the majority of his fellow Republican politicians, Pruitt preaches the same narrative, that human impacts on climate change are “inconclusive” or “far from settled”. This is not the case. The global scientific consensus is that climate change is a factual and serious threat. The very conclusive, very settled evidence is that:
These facts are undeniable, yet some continue to persist that climate science is unsettled. This same “inconclusive” lie now being told about climate change is following the same pattern big tobacco did in the 1990’s. When a report was published exposing the long term harms of smoking and secondhand smoke, tobacco companies began to spread their propaganda, with the help of politicians, that these spokesmen couldn’t be trusted, were spreading irrational fear, and, of course, the results were “inconclusive”. The same techniques are now being utilized by oil and fossil fuel companies, to manipulate and exploit their customers, except this time, we’re all at stake.
It’s already widely known our current President’s viewpoint on the issue, and it’s a different- and dangerous perspective. “We'll be fine with the environment,” he said in a conversation about cutting the agency. And there’s no doubt that he undoubtedly believes this as when looking at Scott Pruitt, the newest EPA administrator, two main instances come up in discussing his possible influences.
First, the obvious. The very agency that Pruitt was confirmed to lead a month ago is the very agency he has sued 14 times, attempting to block regulations put into place by the Obama Administration. He has even called himself a “leading advocate against the EPA’s activist agenda.” To anyone possessing even the slightest bit of common sense, Pruitt would completely undermine the essence of the agency, and would be the last individual appointed to lead it.
There’s also a second aspect to Pruitt that would make one hesitant to confirm him, if the first reason wasn’t enough: his ties to the fossil fuel and oil industries. Since 2002, Pruitt has received more than $300,000 in contributions from the fossil fuel industry; this would include PACs connected to Exxon Mobil and Koch Industries. He’s been very friendly with Devon, as thousands of emails released have uncovered his close ties, such as, “Please find attached a short white paper with some talking points that you might find useful to cut and paste when encouraging states to file comments on the S.S.M. rule.” These rules he was attempting to weaken are the same rules he will now supervise.
It’s clear that Pruitt’s priorities in environmental science lie somewhere else. However, following the similar trend of Trump’s other picks who believe in the complete opposite of their department, he was, of course, confirmed by the Senate to lead the EPA. So, we’ll never know for certain whether what Pruitt says about the environment is really his actual opinion, or an oil company’s agenda he’s so ever in debt to. What is feared most is what someone like him holding such a high position of power will do for the agency.
First, Pruitt could possibly repeal many of the acts that he sued in the past. Examples of these would be the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule and the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards, which together, would prevent 18,000 to 46,000 premature deaths and save up to $380 billion in health care costs each year. Trump also wants to pull the United States out of the Paris Agreement (where more than 190 countries pledged to stop the increase in the average global temperature to below 2 degrees) and Pruitt would be the vital playing card to make this happen.
Finally, Pruitt could prioritize the interests of his friends in the oil and fossil fuel industry when enacting new plans, which would put every citizen at risk for more sicknesses and disease.
The new administration has shown us the dangers of multiple commitments, showcased perfectly through the head of the Environmental Protection Agency. Scott Pruitt, a climate denier in charge of protecting our environment and home, is just one example in many, but until we can get people who have not been heavily funded by other industries, our government will never take action for the causes that truly matter, especially the ones that will soon threaten our existence.