GOOD

Get To Know Scott Pruitt, The Climate Denier Trump Wants To Lead The EPA

“Scott Pruitt would have EPA stand for Every Polluter’s Ally”

Attorney General Scott Pruitt of Oklahoma speaking at the 2016 Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Maryland. Image by Gage Skidmore (cc).

Scott Pruitt’s six-year tenure as attorney general of Oklahoma has been defined by his continuous legal assault on federal environmental and public health protections. Now he is President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee to lead the very agency targeted in the majority of his lawsuits—the Environmental Protection Agency.


[quote position="right" is_quote="true"]Science is the secular religion underlying everything the EPA does.[/quote]

On Wednesday, senators on the Committee on Environment and Public Works will hold Pruitt’s confirmation hearing. While most of Trump’s cabinet nominees have been criticized as unqualified or riddled with conflicts of interest, Pruitt is arguably the most egregious of all. His hostile stance toward the role of the EPA is truly without precedent for a candidate set to lead the agency, according to a lifelong Republican who once led the organization.

“There has never been a more explicit and opposing interpretation of the authority and responsibility of EPA by an EPA nominee,” William K. Reilly, who was head of the EPA under President George H.W. Bush, told Yale Environment 360. “For a prospective EPA administrator to doubt or even contest a conclusion that 11 national academies of science have embraced is willful political obstruction.”

Over the course of his hearing, Pruitt will almost certainly be asked to speak to his strategic attacks on clean air and water rules, as well as to his close professional and financial ties to the fossil fuel industry. I’ve mapped these ties in the DeSmog project below, with a focus on the fossil fuel companies that have supported Pruitt through political action committees (PACs and super PACS) and organizations like the American Legislative Exchange Council and the Republican Attorneys General Association—where Pruitt served as chairman.

If you’re looking to dive into how Pruitt used ALEC, RAGA, and his Rule of Law Defense Fund to funnel funds from coal, oil, and gas companies, click through the map. Senator Edward Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat, summarized these longstanding, deeply knotted ties to the fossil fuel industry when he warned that “Scott Pruitt would have EPA stand for Every Polluter’s Ally.”

[quote position="left" is_quote="true"]Mr. Pruitt has blurred the distinction between official and political actions, often at the behest of corporations.[/quote]

While Pruitt served as the state’s attorney general, hydrofracking turned Oklahoma into a land of perpetual manmade earthquakes, including the largest in human history. Pruitt also led an “unprecedented, secretive alliance” of Republican state attorneys general and large energy companies to attack clean air rules—an arrangement that led to, as The New York Times reported, his office sending a letter written by an oil and gas company (under his own name) to challenge EPA’s science-based analysis of the oil and gas pollution levels in communities around fracking operations.

Meanwhile, Pruitt’s time as chair of RAGA, during which he launched the Rule of Law Defense Fund, ought to demand close scrutiny in his confirmation hearing. Last Thursday, nine Democrats that sit on the panel that will oversea Pruitt’s confirmation hearing sent a letter to the Office of Government Ethics, requesting more background on Pruitt’s dealings with RAGA and his coordinated efforts to undermine the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan.

“During his tenure as attorney general of Oklahoma, Mr. Pruitt has blurred the distinction between official and political actions, often at the behest of corporations he will regulate if confirmed to lead EPA,” the letter said. “Public reporting based on documents produced by Freedom of Information Act requests illustrate how Mr. Pruitt and members of his staff have worked closely with fossil fuel lobbyists to craft his office's official positions.”

Just this week, EDF Action, the political arm of the historically moderate Environmental Defense Fund, released some new research revealing that in all but one lawsuit that Pruitt filed as attorney general, a co-litigator was a company that also contributed to Pruitt’s campaign or a PAC affiliated with Pruitt. The Environmental Defense Fund, which has never opposed an EPA nominee from either party in its 50-year history, stated that “Mr. Pruitt’s record and principles are so dangerous we are strongly opposing his confirmation.”

[quote position="full" is_quote="true"]For a prospective EPA leader to doubt a conclusion that 11 national academies of science have embraced is willful political obstruction.[/quote]

Throughout Pruitt’s legal career, he has continually put the interests of his fossil fuel allies ahead of the public, consistently dismissing scientific analysis. He is an outspoken denier of climate science, and he has repeatedly sided with industry over the scientifically proven threats of air and water pollution to Oklahoman communities.

As Reilly put it, “Science is the secular religion underlying everything the EPA does, and one who cannot rely on it, or is determinedly contemptuous of it, cannot effectively lead the agency or serve as the country's environmental conscience.”

Infographics
Julian Meehan

Young leaders from around the world are gathering at the United Nations Headquarters in New York Saturday to address arguably the most urgent issue of our time. The Youth Climate Summit comes on the heels of an international strike spearheaded by Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old climate activist from Sweden, who arrived in New York via emissions-free sailboat earlier this month.

Translated from Swedish, "berg" means "mountain," so it may feel fated that a young woman with Viking blood in her veins and summit in her name would be at the helm. But let's go out on a limb and presume Thunberg, in keeping with most activists, would chafe at the notion of pre-ordained "destiny," and rightly so. Destiny is passive — it happens to you. It's also egomaniacal. Change, on the other hand, is active; you have to fight. And it is humble. "We need to get angry and understand what is at stake," Thunberg declared. "And then we need to transform that anger into action."

This new generation of activists' most pernicious enemy is denial. The people in charge — complacent politicians and corporation heads who grossly benefit from maintaining the status quo — are buffered from real-life consequences of climate change. But millions of people don't share that privilege. For them, climate change isn't an abstract concept, but a daily state of emergency, whether it comes in the form of "prolonged drought in sub-Saharan Africa…devastating tropical storms sweeping across Southeast Asia, the Caribbean and the Pacific…[or] heatwaves and wildfires," as Amnesty International reportsare all too real problems people are facing on a regular basis.

RELATED: Greta Thunberg urges people to turn to nature to combat climate change

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet

Millions of people in over 150 countries across the globe marched for lawmakers and corporations to take action to help stop climate change on Friday, September 20.

The Climate Strikes were organized by children around the world as an extension of the of the "Fridays for Future" campaign. Students have been walking out of classrooms on Fridays to speak out about political inaction surrounding the climate crisis.

"We need to act right now to stop burning fossil fuels and ensure a rapid energy revolution with equity, reparations and climate justice at its heart," organizers say.

There's no doubt the visual images from the marches send a powerful message to those on the ground but especially those watching from around the world. GOOD's own Gabriel Reilich was on the scene for the largest of the Climate Strikes. Here are 18 of the best signs from the Climate Strike march in New York City.

Keep Reading Show less

September 20th marks the beginning of a pivotal push for the future of our planet. The Global Climate Strike will set the stage for the United Nations Climate Action Summit, where more than 60 nations are expected to build upon their commitment to 2015's Paris Agreement for combating climate change.

Millions of people are expected to take part in an estimated 4,000 events across 130 countries.

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet
via Apple

When the iPhone 11 debuted on September 10, it was met with less enthusiasm than the usual iPhone release. A lot of techies are holding off purchasing the latest gadget until Apple releases a phone with 5G technology.

Major US phone carriers have yet to build out the infrastructure necessary to provide a consistent 5G experience, so Apple didn't feel it necessary to integrate the technology into its latest iPhone.

A dramatic new feature on the iPhone 11 Pro is its three camera lenses. The three lenses give users the the original wide, plus ultrawide and telephoto options.

Keep Reading Show less
Health
via I love butter / Flickr

We often dismiss our dreams as nonsensical dispatches from the mind while we're deep asleep. But recent research proves that our dreams can definitely affect our waking lives.

People often dream about their significant others and studies show it actually affects how we behave towads them the next day.

"A lot of people don't pay attention to their dreams and are unaware of the impact they have on their state of mind," said Dylan Selterman, psychology lecturer at the University of Maryland, says according to The Huffington Post. "Now we have evidence that there is this association."

Keep Reading Show less
Health