Chicago Sun-Times Opinion
Scott Pruitt’s short tenure as EPA chief already a scandal
Sun-Times Editorial Board July 5, 2017
Scott Pruitt, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, is not doing his job. Quite the opposite.
Rather than do the hard work of making our nation’s environmental regulations work better for business while still protecting Americans — always a difficult balancing act — Pruitt wants to incinerate the rules, belching the resulting smoke into the atmosphere and tossing the residue into the nearest creek.
Day by day, he makes it clear he is in the wrong job.
On Monday, a divided federal appeals court shot down Pruitt’s ill-advised effort to delay rules designed to cut down on methane leaks, which contribute to global warming.
But if Pruitt has his way, that will slow him down only temporarily.
In his five months on the job, Pruitt has tried to block, delay or entirely uproot more than 30 environmental regulations. He is shredding the Clean Power Plan, designed to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas. He wants to revoke plans to reduce pollution in waterways. He has ended a ban on a pesticide the EPA had found was dangerous to children. He has delayed a rule to stop chemical plant explosions and spills. He has become Donald Trump’s point man in undermining America’s compliance with the Paris climate change accord and wants to gum up the works by starting a debate on whether human-caused climate change is real.
As for going after any new threats to the environment? Not a chance.
Pruitt has a long history of unprincipled attacks on environmental regulations. When he was the attorney general of Oklahoma, he repeatedly sued to block EPA regulations that irked business interests. He signed letters to regulators that were written by industry lobbyists.
As EPA administrator, he mostly ignores the EPA’s career experts. In recent weeks, he has shown the door to 47 members of the EPA’s respected Board of Scientific Counselors. For advice, he turns instead to ex-lobbyists, anti-environment politicians and industry figures themselves.
The Trump administration’s environmental policies need a housecleaning.