This week the full Senate will likely decide whether to confirm President Trump’s nominee to run the Environmental Protection Agency, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt.
Here are the top 10 reasons to oppose him for the nation’s top environmental job.
1. Pruitt misled the Senate. There’s little question that Pruitt made misleading statements to the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee about his record as attorney general, his litigation history, and the role of the Oklahoma attorney general in environmental enforcement. The remaining question is whether the Justice Department will investigate his statements, as EWG has requested.
2. He told senators to “go FOIA yourselves,” referring to the Freedom of Information Act. Rather than respond to written questions, Pruitt told senators to file an open records request 18 times – or as Sen. Ed Markey of Massachusetts said, to “go FOIA yourself.” In addition, Pruitt won’t release 3,000 emails between his office and the energy interests he’ll regulate if confirmed.
3. He sued the EPA or supported lawsuits against it more than two dozen times. Pruitt told the Senate committee he only sued the EPA 10 times to block public health protections. In fact, his office actually sued the EPA 17 times and filed supporting briefs nine other times. So, that’s 26 times Pruitt went to court to block the EPA’s environmental protection actions.
4. He took money from regulated industries. As Oklahoma’s attorney general and head of the Republican Attorneys General Association, Pruitt helped collect millions of dollars in political donations from industries he is now supposed to regulate. What’s more, he won’t commit to recusing himself from matters related to these lawsuits.
5. He’s a longstanding climate change doubter. Pruitt testified to the Senate that he did not think climate change was a “hoax” and that humans played some role. But Pruitt has consistently used the fossil fuel industry’s playbook to sow doubt about climate science, saying “reasonable minds can disagree about what is actually happening, whether it is happening number one, whether there is a change in climate that is occurring.”
6. He can’t name a single regulation he supports. When asked by senators, Pruitt could not name one regulation he supports. He couldn’t even say whether removing lead from gasoline was a good idea, or whether or not lead was safe for kids. And he said it would be “inappropriate” to say whether the EPA should finally ban asbestos.
7. He rolled back water quality protections. Pruitt claimed a 2013 agreement was a “historic” breakthrough to clean up a scenic river. In fact, Pruitt’s bad deal gave polluters more time to pollute and suspended enforcement actions.
8. He let poultry polluters off the hook. After receiving political donations from poultry polluters, Pruitt stopped pursuing litigation against them. As a state senator, he helped weaken a state law regulating poultry operators, allowing dozens of new chicken houses near rivers. After he took office as attorney general, a poultry waste lagoon subject to his oversight overflowed after a storm, fouling nearby creeks and lakes with chicken manure.
9. He disbanded the state’s environment protection unit. Pruitt disbanded the attorney general’s environmental protection unit. As a result, environmental prosecutions in Oklahoma came to a halt. Now there are reports that the Trump administration may shutter the EPA’s enforcement unit. Sound familiar?
10. Even former Republican EPA administrators say he’s unqualified. Christie Todd Whitman, President George W. Bush’s EPA administrator, said Pruitt is a “denier of climate change” who “doesn’t believe in regulation.” William Reilly, who led the EPA under President George H.W. Bush, said someone who is so “determinedly contemptuous” of science “cannot effectively lead” the EPA.