Trump’s Nominee For Head of EPA Plans to Gut Regulation & Protections

On January 18, 2017, Scott Pruitt will go through confirmation hearings on Capitol Hill to become the new administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Donald Trump’s nominee to be head of the EPA.

Scott Pruitt, has a long history of fighting the agency’s initiatives to provide vital protections for the long term health of the public. These environmental protections include reducing toxic environmental releases and overall improvement of air quality.

Pruitt has spent years suing the EPA over climate change initiatives which include clean air initiatives, clean water initiatives, clean power initiatives, and other initiatives aimed at protecting the general public and the nation’s national parks.

Pruitt has failed in many of challenges against the EPA, while several of his challenges against the EPA are still pending while he could be nominated to head of the EPA. Pruitt often worked in close relations with the oil and gas industry which has donated more than $300,000 to his political campaigns.

The Timeline of Lawsuits Filed By Pruitt Against the EPA

May of 2011, as Oklahoma’s Attorney General, Scott Pruitt sued the EPA to challenge its plans to reduce haze and pollution from coal burning power plants and other industrial sources to improve the ability of the public to see wilderness areas including the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge. In May of 2014 the United States Supreme Court declined to review Pruitt’s challenge of the EPA’s initiatives.

September of 2011, Pruitt’s state of Oklahoma challenged an EPA initiative which regulated power plant pollution that crosses state lines. In 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the EPA’s cross state air pollution rule, which takes effect in May of 2017.

July of 2013, Pruitt along with several of his associates, sued the EPA alleging the Freedom of Information Act was violated when the EPA denied to disclose information about its communications with environmental groups. Pruitt made claims that the EPA encourages lawsuits brought by non-profit environmental organizations such as the Sierra Club, Greenpeace, Defenders of Wildlife, and WildEarth Guardians. Pruitt also claimed the EPA then settles the lawsuits without any powers given granted to it the agency by federal law. This lawsuit was dismissed by a district court judge in December of 2013.

April of 2014, Pruitt sent correspondence to the EPA questioning its plans to regulate hydraulic fracturing. In the letter Pruitt stated,

“I am concerned that this project is politically motivated and ignores the EPA’s three previous failed attempts to link hydraulic fracturing to water contamination, the U.S. Department of Energy has investigated hydraulic fracturing potential harm to water supplies and found no evidence linking the drilling technique to groundwater contamination.”

August 2014, Pruitt joined in a lawsuit challenging the EPA’s regulation of greenhouse gases. The lawsuit seeks to overturn a settlement where the EPA agreed to begin regulation of greenhouse gases as part of the Clean Air Act.

July of 2015, Pruitt sued the EPA in a Tulsa, Oklahoma Federal Court over the agency’s plans to regulate pollution emitted from coal burning power plants. This lawsuit was later dismissed by the court.

July of 2015, Pruitt also files a lawsuit in the Tulsa Federal Court challenging the EPA’s new initiatives to control pollution in waters regulated by the Clean Water Act. The court dismissed this lawsuit and an appeal is pending.

October of 2015, Pruitt joined a lawsuit challenging the EPA’s Clean Power Plan initiatives just after the rules became effective. The rules require states cut in carbon emissions by 30% before 2030. This case is still pending.

August of 2016, Pruitt joined in a lawsuit which challenged federal regulation for methane emissions by new equipment at natural gas and oil production locations. These rules are part of the agency’s plan to cut the methane emission by over 40% by 2025.

Other Legal Efforts to Derail Public Safety and EPA Initiatives

Pruitt also filed lawsuits against the EPA to block policies to decrease levels of toxic mercury, acid gases, and arsenic emissions from power plants although most facilities were on track to comply with the proposed regulations. Mercury is known by scientists to have a serious negative impact on the brain development of children.

Pruitt’s views on asbestos containing products and their environmental exposure are not yet known. However President-Elect Donald Trump has made his favorable views on the toxic substance public since speaking in a tweet in 2012 that the twin towers would not have burned down had asbestos been allowed to be used in the construction of the twin towers.

Trump’s tweet caused controversy with the first responders to the 9/11 attack being exposed to clouds af asbestos fibers and continuing to come down with asbestos related lung cancers and mesothelioma from their exposure to the toxic mineral. Comparing it to other materials Trump argued asbestos is “like a heavyweight champion against a lightweight from high school.”

Scott Pruitt’s nomination to head the EPA is an overall conflict of interests with the entire point of the agency and health of the public who have already been through enough with toxic exposures in the environment.

Matthew Davis

Author

Matthew Davis has studied journalism at the University of Colorado and has covered civil litigation for a variety of publications. He joined Mesowatch in 2016 and covers asbestos litigation developments in the U.S., as well as newsworthy asbestos cases.