The Senate has confirmed anti-environment zealot and climate change-denier Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt by a vote of 52-46 to lead the Environmental Protection Agency. Democrats have cited concerns with Pruitt’s ties to fossil fuel companies and have requested to see e-mail correspondence between Pruitt and the fossil fuel industry. Even though the public records requests won’t be available until Tuesday, Senator Mitch McConnell denied a delay of Pruitt’s confirmation and pushed the vote today. As Oklahoma’s Attorney General, Pruitt has been one of the main challengers of many of the Obama Administration’s environmental actions in court. He also questions the “science of climate change” and will go forward in lock step of Trump’s agenda to roll back 45 years of environmental protections.
“Now that Scott Pruitt is the new head of the EPA he will accelerate Trump’s attack on the environment and help dismantle the agency. Pruitt is a climate change denier who will work for the fossil fuel industry instead of the people of the United States. With Pruitt leading the EPA, he will let polluters off the hook, while rolling back regulations on carbon dioxide, ozone and mercury. He will lead the fight to eliminate the Clean Power Plan, which was designed to reduce greenhouse gasses and protect public health. He will carry out Trump’s plans to gut the EPA, remove its staff, and stop all of the vital programs to protect our air and water. Together they will actually rollback 45 years of environmental protections,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “Republicans rammed Pruitt’s vote through even though he hasn’t released his e-mails with fossil fuel companies, which shows they will stop at nothing to dismantle the environment. After the Democrats requested his e-mails, Pruitt refused to release them and made them do an open public record request. Pruitt is clearly trying to hide that he is in the pocket of the oil and gas industry. Now that he is confirmed, he will work in lock step with President Trump to turn the EPA into ‘Every Polluter’s Agency.’”
Scott Pruitt, the Attorney General of Oklahoma has been a huge ally to the fossil fuel industry whose own biography describes him as “a leading advocate against the EPA’s activist agenda. Pruitt has sued against regulations that he is now in charge to implement like the Clean Water Rule, Mercury Air Toxic Rule as well as the Clean Power Plan. He even led a “secretive alliance” of attorney generals working for the fossil fuel industry in suing the EPA over clean air, water, and climate protections. When the Sierra Club reached an agreement with an Oklahoma utility to retire and replace one of its polluting coal-fired power plants with Oklahoma-produced wind energy, Scott Pruitt tried to block it altogether. On several occasions, he took industry-produced letters and memos and sent them along to the Obama Administration or the EPA with very minimal changes.
“Pruitt leading the EPA is like the fox guarding the henhouse and saying its safe. Not only is he against some of the most important environmental laws of the last decade, he has even sued against regulations he will be in charge of implementing. Pruitt has clear ties to the fossil fuel industry and already has an agenda to dismantle the agency he is supposed to lead. He has commented on wanting to repeal the Waters of the United States Rule, which protects wetlands and prevents flooding. He was even involved in a letter scandal in which he aligned with an energy company against the EPA. Pruitt has even said he won’t recuse himself from dealing with any of the rules that he’s sued against, creating a conflict of interest,” said Tittel.
Anne Gorsuch Burford not only cut EPA staff and slashed the budget, but even played games with the superfund sites and tried to push hazardous waste incinerator ships off of our coast. Anne was the first Cabinet member who faced a charge for contempt of Congress and was forced to resign with a criminal investigation hanging over her.
“There has not been another EPA Administrator with a more anti-environmental agenda than Anne Gorsuch Burford who worked under the Reagan Administration. Anne Gorsuch Burford was considered environmental emery #1 in her role to dismantle EPA. She not only cut EPA staff and slashed the budget, but even played games with the superfund sites and tried to push hazardous waste incinerator ships off of our coast. Her son was even nominated by Trump as a Supreme Court Judge. With Pruitt’s nomination we are even more concerned this time that President Trump and Pruitt can get away with dismantling the EPA because Congress is controlled by the Republicans, not Democrats,” said Jeff Tittel. “We thank Senator Booker and Menendez for standing up to the dangerous nomination of Scott Pruitt and look forward to working with them against all of Trump’s environmental rollbacks.”
On top of gutting the EPA budget by $1 billion dollars, the Administration has discussed plans to cut the EPA from 15,000 employees to 5,000 employees. By removing 10,000 jobs across the EPA, it will directly impact New Jersey by removing oversight and inspections on regulations. In Region 2 alone, we have 10 offices that work on issues from clean air to emergency and remedial issues, clean water, public affairs as well as enforcement and compliance. It could also impact cleaning up toxic sites, water quality testing as well as funding on climate change and the 319 program for stormwater.
“As EPA Administrator, Pruitt will do Trump’s dirty work when it comes to promoting pipelines, fracking, and dirty fuels. Trump wants to remove 2/3 of jobs from the EPA, while cutting $500 million in programs to the states. With Pruitt leading the EPA, New Jersey’s toxic Superfund sites won’t be cleaned-up. We will even see more air and water pollution because there will be less enforcement and oversight, while the New Jersey looses funding to deal with stormwater, mitigate climate change, and retrofit lead pipes. The DEP could even have to cut staff who are responsible for implementing the Clean Water Act, causing a huge hole in New Jersey’s budget. These cuts will mean there will be no one to respond chemical spills or make sure that our oceans aren’t dirtier, our drinking water is safe, and our air is clean. Pruitt will work with Trump on his plan to create a Polluter’s Holiday,” said Tittel.
The New Jersey Sierra Club are working with thousands of people across the country to march the streets of Washington D.C. on April 29th to demand action on climate change and fight back against Scott Pruitt and Donald Trump.
“President-elect Donald Trump nominated Scott Pruitt to work with him to destroy environmental protections and gut the EPA. If Trump moves forward with his plans to cut funding by $1 billion and eliminate 10,000 jobs, there will be no one left to make sure polluters are not violating the law, dumping toxic chemicals in our air and water, and on our land. This will not only hurt the environment, it will hurt the economy. That is why it is more important than ever to rally against Pruitt and Trump to take on their anti-environmental agenda,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “The public must stand up for clean air, clean water and action on climate change. We need to come together and march in Washington D.C. on April 29th to defend our environment like we haven’t done since the first Earth Day. It will be up to us to protect our planet against Trump and Pruitt.”