News from Ground Control: Planet Trump (Feb. 17)

After today’s vote confirming Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt as Environmental Protection Agency administrator, a number of troubling questions remain as to his impartiality and his commitment to protecting the environment.

Following today’s vote, EWG President Ken Cook said, “Today’s near party-line vote to confirm Pruitt marks a new low in the GOP’s embrace of an aggressively anti-environment agenda that caters to virtually every polluting industry in America.”

Just yesterday, a court in Oklahoma ordered the release thousands of emails between Pruitt’s office and the fossil fuel industry. Here’s a reminder of a 2014 investigation that found a secret alliance between the Oklahoma attorney general and the fossil fuel industry.

“America has a right to know if Scott Pruitt will be working for them, or if, in effect, he will continue working for the fossil fuel industry,” Cook said of the court’s decision.

Here are several of this past week’s deep dives on that development, along with other worrisome environmental and public health actions taken by the new administration.

VICE, Vice News (Feb. 17, 2017) Confirmed: Pruitt Confirmed as EPA Chief Despite Thousands of Unreleased Emails With Oil Companies

As attorney general of Oklahoma, Pruitt sued the EPA 14 times on behalf of oil and gas interests based in his state and issued more than 50 press releases celebrating lawsuits to overturn EPA standards. At his confirmation hearings earlier this month, he conceded he could not think of a single EPA regulation he supported. “There has never been a nominee for EPA administrator opposed so strongly by environmental and public health advocates, scientists, and hundreds of current and former EPA officials,” said Environmental Working Group president Ken Cook, in a statement.

USA Today, Erin Kelly (Feb. 17, 2017) Senate Confirms Scott Pruitt for EPA Chief Amid Last-Minute Drama

"As Scott Pruitt takes the reins at the EPA, we expect to see an unprecedented assault on public health protections," said Ken Cook, president of the Environmental Working Group. "We will stand with our colleagues in the environmental movement, and the thousands of committed professionals at the EPA, to resist that assault and uphold the right of all Americans to clean air, safe water and a healthy environment."

Los Angeles Times, Evan Halper (Feb. 17, 2017) After Bruising Battle, Climate-Change Skeptic Scott Pruitt Confirmed to Lead EPA

He distinguished himself in Oklahoma by battling many of the signature environmental protections implemented by Obama, arguing they were a federal intrusion on the states.  He does not accept the mainstream scientific consensus on climate change, and has been described by the National Resources Defense Council and the Environmental Working Group as the worst nominee selected to run the EPA in history.

NBC News, Phil McCausland (Feb. 16, 2017) Scott Pruitt, President Trump’s EPA Nominee, Ordered to Release Thousands of Emails

New York Times, Coral Davenport (Feb. 16, 2017) EPA Workers Try to Block Pruitt in Show of Defiance

Reuters, David Shepardson, Timothy Gardner and Richard Valdmanis (Feb. 16, 2017) EPA Staff Told to Prepare for Trump Executive Orders: Sources

The Hill, Jaydee Hanson (Feb. 12, 2017) Sonny Perdue Won’t Offer Much Promise for the Future of Our Food System

Vox, Brad Plumer (Feb. 13, 2017) 5 Possible Futures for the EPA Under Trump

Reuters, Valerie Volcovici and Annie Knox (Feb. 17, 2017) Sportsmen Fight Trump Energy Plans Alongside Environmental Left

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