Some have described Irony as the juxtaposition of incongruous elements. That description makes it easier to understand the concept and reasoning behind the new President’s pick to be the 14th Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt. This particular inhabitant of the new administration’s swamp is the former Oklahoma attorney general, and the lifelong enemy of environmental protection. Pruitt comes to the job not to protect our environment, but to destroy it. This ironic twist, worthy of the Twilight Zone, has now become reality through this appointment. Interestingly, the EPA was created by President Nixon in 1970, and is charged with the mission of protecting human health and the environment.
Born in 1968 in Danville, Kentucky, Pruitt moved to Tulsa not long after graduating from the University of Kentucky in 1990. His political career began in 1998 in the Oklahoma Senate, eventually leading to his election as Oklahoma’s Attorney General in 2010, and the beginning of his conflict with the agency he now controls. Of all the Cabinet picks our national disgrace has selected, it’s hard to pick a winner as to who the very worst is in the new administration’s cabinet of swamp dwellers. But you won’t find anyone, even among this nest of vipers,
“More overtly hostile toward the agency he’s about to lead than Scott Pruitt has been toward the Environmental Protection Agency.”
Secretary Pruitt has made no secret of the fact that his views on our environment are in opposition to the goals of the EPA. During his tenure as Oklahoma’s attorney general, his own bio on the state website referred to himself as,
“A leading advocate against the EPA’s activist agenda.”
One of Pruitt’s first acts as Oklahoma Attorney General was declining to continue litigation started by his predecessor against the poultry farming industry, alleged to be polluting the scenic rivers of Oklahoma and neighboring Arkansas. The move came after he had taken campaign contributions from executives and lawyers for the poultry companies named in the ongoing litigation.
During his six year tenure as Oklahoma Attorney General, Pruitt filed lawsuit after lawsuit against the EPA, fourteen to be exact. Pruitt has sued for such things as blocking EPA plans to clean up the Chesapeake Bay, reversing EPA rules restricting mercury emissions from coal plants, and blocking the Obama administration’s efforts to tackle climate change because Pruitt is a climate change science denier. Most of these lawsuits have either failed or been dismissed, but that was before Pruitt was given control of the apparatus that at the time was opposing his agenda.
Secretary Pruitt presents a clear history of putting protection and cooperation with industry before the health and safety of his constituency, the people of the state of Oklahoma. He has consistently sought to blunt the impact of federal environmental policies, as those policies go against the interests of the oil, gas, agriculture and other industries. Pruitt presents a clear record of extreme antipathy to federal regulation, if not open hostility towards effective protection of the environment.
The new President,
“Would have been hard-pressed to find a more inappropriate choice to lead the Environmental Protection Agency than Scott Pruitt.”
Still, the Senate confirmed Pruitt as the new EPA administrator on February 17, 2017, despite continued questions concerning Pruitt’s record. The day before his confirmation, Oklahoma District Judge Aletia Haynes Timmons, ordered Pruitt to release e-mails requested through a lawsuit brought by the Center for Media and Democracy, claiming that Pruitt violated the Oklahoma Open Records Act by failing to make public official documents requested beginning in 2015. The group sought correspondences going between the Oklahoma Attorney General’s office and Koch Industries, other mining and fossil fuel producers, and with the Republican Attorneys General Association, which Pruitt chaired. But it wasn’t until after his confirmation that the explosive contents of those emails started spilling out of control, like the earthquakes that have now made the State of Oklahoma the second most earthquake prone state in the United States, thanks to the explosion in fracking helped by Mr. Pruitt.
The e-mails released in compliance with the Judge’s order show that Pruitt acted in cooperation with the oil and gas industries that were seeking to challenge federal environmental regulations, such as by putting the letterhead of the Oklahoma Attorney General onto a complaint actually drafted by Devon Energy. The e-mails reveal a symbiotic relationship between Pruitt and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the influential US lobbying network of Republican politicians and big businesses sponsored by the Koch brothers, the billionaire energy investors who have spent decades fighting against environmental regulation. It would seem they have finally found their man.
The American people owe a duty to the land that gave us birth and nourishes us. We expect the EPA to continue to protect the magnificence that is our land, waters, and air from the greedy and slovenly ravishers of our country, like Scott Pruitt and his ilk. The appointment and confirmation of Scott Pruitt to head the EPA clearly telegraphs the administration’s intent to disarm the EPA, and to destroy the environment. This administration has outdone itself this time with the selection of Mr. Pruitt, but we have come to expect nothing less from this administration, which Steve Bannon told us at the recent CPAC conference, is hellbent on deconstructing our government.