OPED Pruitt 'single worst' choice for EPA

Ed Perry, National Wildlife Federation

For our entire 80-year history, the National Wildlife Federation has never opposed a president’s nominee for a cabinet position. Until now.

The health of the Chesapeake Bay is improving, but is still "dangerously out of balance," according to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

Scott Pruitt, President Trump’s nominee to head the Environmental Protection Agency, is the single worst appointee to head the EPA in my lifetime. As a lifelong fisherman and hunter, I and my fellow outdoor enthusiasts have depended on a strong EPA to protect our air and water resources. Without clean air and water and good habitat, we would not have the quality outdoor experience we all have come to take for granted.

Scott Pruitt would undermine these important safeguards. He has sued EPA 14 times and has 8 lawsuits pending. Evidently, there is nothing the agency does that Pruitt supports. 

He has sued EPA to prevent them from restoring Clean Water Act protections to headwater streams and wetlands that provide clean drinking water to 117 million Americans. 

He sued EPA to overturn their rule designed to curb mercury pollution. Pruitt asserted that the science does not show that mercury causes adverse health effects, despite a large body of science showing that mercury is a potent neurotoxin that is especially harmful to the developing fetus. Unfortunately, every body of water in every state in the country is contaminated with enough mercury so that all the states have issued fish consumption advisories.

Pruitt is also a climate denier, so he joins a long list of government officials who refuse to accept the overwhelming scientific consensus that the planet is heating up and our dependence on fossil fuels is the cause.

Pruitt is so biased against EPA that he has even sued to block limits on water pollution into the Chesapeake Bay, despite residing in Oklahoma, over 1000 miles from the Bay.

The reason for Pruitt’s assault on EPA can be traced back to major donations from the fossil fuel industry and other major polluters in Oklahoma. As attorney general of Oklahoma, Pruitt worked closely with the fossil fuel industry in his state. So closely, in fact, that when Devon Energy, one of Oklahoma’s biggest oil and gas companies, emailed him a draft letter in 2011 opposing a federal effort to limit methane gas leaking from drilling operations, Pruitt changed a few words, put the letter on his own letterhead, and sent it to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Even lawyers from his own state have joined the chorus of those urging senators to reject Pruitt, saying he abandoned environmental protections in Oklahoma in favor of industries that were also among his biggest political donors.

The fact is, if you’re a gardener, angler, birdwatcher, hunter, skier, biker, kayaker, hiker, or just someone who enjoys the outdoors, Scott Pruitt does not support what you love to do. If you support clean water and clean air, Scott Pruitt does not support you. And if you want action on climate change so our kids and grandkids will have a decent future, he is definitely not on your side.

Climate change is here, happening right now, and our dependence on fossil fuels is causing it. Every decade for the past 40 years has been hotter than the previous decade; 15 of the hottest years on record have all been since 2000; and the last three years have been the hottest ever. That’s the definition of a changing climate.

Our country needs an EPA Administrator that will put the health and welfare of the American people ahead of the polluting industries, and Scott Pruitt is not that person.  Senator Casey has already said he would oppose Pruitt’s nomination. Unfortunately, we can count on Sen. Pat Toomey to continue to support Pruitt’s nomination – unless he hears from us.

Toomey can be reached by phone at (717) 782-3951, via email from his Senate website, under "Contact" and on Twitter at @SenToomey.

— Ed Perry is outreach coordinator for the National Wildlife Federation.