EPA Nominee Would be a Disaster for People and the Environment

January 18, 2017

This morning, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will convene a hearing on the nomination of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to be the next head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The EPA is tasked with the enormous and vital responsibility of protecting human health and human lives by ensuring that the air we breathe, the water we drink, the soil that grows our food, and our very bodies are protected from toxic threats and from the threat of climate change. The agency’s central mission of setting and enforcing national standards reflect the reality that environmental harms do not stop at state borders and that addressing those harms demands a coordinated national, and often international, response.

Pruitt is a climate denier and industry apologist who has openly expressed his opposition to the EPA’s mission and its mandate. As Oklahoma AG, Pruitt sued the EPA a staggering fourteen times, challenging necessary regulations on everything from mercury to smog. Rather than hold corporations accountable for environmental harms, Pruitt actively and repeatedly intervened on their behalf, including against other states. In doing so, he often concealed industry’s role in his decisions and his official actions.

Carroll Muffett, President of the Center for International Environmental Law, issued the following statement on the hearing:

The EPA plays an essential role in protecting the American people from toxic risks and in protecting the people of the world from unchecked climate change. From his rejection of climate science to his demonstrated opposition to national environmental regulations, Scott Pruitt has proven that he is grievously ill-suited to that role.

As Oklahoma Attorney General, Scott Pruitt consistently undermined people’s right to a healthy environment by fighting against vital regulations. He tried to stop investigations into Exxon’s climate denial by other state attorneys general. He passed off oil industry lobby documents as official comments by his state. He opposed efforts to improve safety at high-risk chemical plants. And he consistently favored industry interests over the needs of his citizens, the protection of the environment, and the dictates of science. His nomination would put the EPA in the hands and under the control of industry to the detriment of the climate, the environment, and the American people.

Putting Scott Pruitt in charge of the nation’s environment is not simply ill-advised and irresponsible, it is inherently dangerous. CIEL urges the Committee and the Senate to reject his nomination and urges Donald Trump to nominate a leader who will protect the right to a healthy planet for all of us.