EPA Worst Adminstrator Ever: Scott Pruitt

The EPA has existed for 47 years.   It was created by Richard Nixon in 1970, by Executive Order.    Richard Nixon also signed into law, the Clean Air (1970) and Clean Water Acts (as amended 1972).   The first line of the  Clean Water Act states:

The objective of this Act is to restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the Nation’s waters.

This first sentence is powerful, as the act directs the federal government in conjunction with state agencies to RESTORE  the quality of the  nation’s waters.   Thus, there was an acknowledgement of a problem.   Thus, the creation of the agency was direct the government to take a leadership role in the restoration of  our water and air resources.  Nixon being from California,  likely understood this, as the Colorado watershed encompasses 7 states in the US and 2 states in Mexico.   California is downstream to all pollutants discharged into the Colorado River in the US.

Scott Pruitt may like to see environmental policy run from the state and local level,  mainly for political reasons, but it is the geographical reality which makes so many of our environmental problems, a national problem, requiring federal action.   The pollutants  from the coal burning plants goes to the upper atmosphere,  where there are no signs saying “You are entering Massachusetts” or even, “You are entering Canada.”

Scott Pruitt is an attorney of law.   He has done nothing to restore or improve air or water quality in his home state of Oklahoma, as Attorney General.   Instead, he accepted contributions from Tyson foods, who were being sued for polluting the Illinois River that flows through Oklahoma.

Oklahoma AG and EPA Pick Pruitt Stalled Pollution Lawsuit After Contributions From Poultry Industry

His track record as AG was to attack EPA actions, initiating 13 lawsuits against the EPA.

Now as administrator of the EPA, his actions run counter the core mission of the EPA, to preserve the water, land and air natural resources of the US for future generations to enjoy.   His perspective is one of an advocate for individuals to pollute as much as they want, so long as they don’t endanger the health and safety of general population.   Individual liberties may sound good, but in result can be extremely harmful.

I have posted numerous blogs on the actions of the EPA under the Trump administration, including the most recent one on banning EPA scientists from making presentations at a scientific meeting on the Narraganset Bay estuary.   I was please to see Steven Colbert, the late night show host,   really tearing into Scott Pruitt’s policies, noting that until he pulled the 3 scientists from the meeting, it is likely few people knew about this estuary, or even what an estuary was.

Scott Pruitt latest attack on the agency he runs is to remove as many of the independent and dedicated environmental scientists in the advisory groups in the EPA and replace them with people of his own choosing.   This tactic in this case is to bar anyone who is receiving funding from the EPA from participating in the advisory groups.

Citing The Bible, The EPA Just ChangedAdvisers Its Rules For Science 

In support of his drastic actions,  Scott Pruitt relies on the pretext that scientists receiving funds from the EPA might have a conflict of interest.  However, this was quickly countered by numerous organizations,  noting there was already strict disclosure rules in place, the prevent conflict of interest.    Dr. Tiech from George Washington University stated the following:

” Disqualifying the very people who know the most about a subject from serving as advisors makes no sense.”

More succinctly, he wrote, “Frankly,  this directive is nuts.”   Others voiced similar opinions, as follows:

The change calls into question EPA’s ability to protect the country, according to Rush Holt, chief executive officer of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. “We question whether the EPA can continue to pursue its core mission to protect human health and the environment,” Holt said in a statement issued Tuesday.

Scott Pruitt battled the EPA through lawsuits as Attorney General of Oklahoma.  Now,  he must battle the organization he heads.

Stay tuned,

Dave

PS.  I’ve posted numerous blogs on the EPA and the Trump administration’s indifference to environmental issues.   See the various categories such as Environment, Global Warming. Coal, or Chloropyrisfos.  Also you can search under EPA  or Scott Pruitt.

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Coal Industry

Regulations are killing the coal industry.  They are destroying jobs.  They destroy who communities and a way of life.  Obama declared war on the coal industry. I dig coal.

This is of course not my opinion.  It’s the opinion of  Trump and EPA director, Scott Pruitt.   I think the recent Frontline show, War on EPA, provides the viewpoints of both Trump supporters and opponents.  You can see the entire program online:

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/film/war-on-the-epa/

About 50 minutes into the program, there is this wonderful quote from Betsy Sutherland, who  was the Director of the Office of Science and Technology until Sept 2017,  about working with Scott Pruitt, “He just doesn’t ask any questions.”  Bob Murray, COE of Murray Coal was quite candid about his influence on the Trump administration: “I gave Mr. Trump what I call an action plan very early on.  It’s about 3 1/2 pages long.  He’s wiped out [completed] page one.

As very briefly mentioned in the program, it is not just about carbon emission, but a long range of regulations on harmful pollutants that Scott Pruitt is rolling back.  These regulation range from the reporting of methane emissions from the natural gas industry to the banning of harmful pesticides.  Another words, what industry wants is exactly what industry gets.  You can’t be sued for methane emissions if nobody knows how much was released.

And one would think that the fossil fuel industry would be soaring on the news that the Clean Power Act is about to be repealed by the EPA.  This is hardly the case.  I can’t say how Murray Coal is reacting to Trump’s agenda because it is a private company.  However, the stock price of the  world’s largest coal company with a market cap of around 3 billion dollars, Peabody Energy (BTU), continued it’s downward decline, with a stock price of around $28/shr, far below its Nov 2012 price of $377/shr.The coal industry has been in a long term decline.  What is killing the coal industry is automation in the mines, and low cost natural gas, not regulation.  The lack of enthusiasm from the stock market on coal stocks pretty well proves this point.

The benefits of the Clean Power Plan Act were far reaching, and included economic, climate and health benefits.  When Scott Pruitt was asked about the relationship between the recent series of hurricane and warming waters due to climate change, he said this was not the appropriate time to consider this subject.  I consider it highly appropriate time to recognize climate change is a factor in the intensity of hurricanes.

Related Links:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clean_Power_Plan

Fareed Zakarian, columnist for the Washington Post, really got it right!

China is winning the Future

Stay tuned,

Dave

How we poison ourselves

We do it slowly, in subtle ways.   And we do it, with knowledge of some of the best scientific institutions in the world.  We do it for the love of money. Retired folks who are tired of the noise and pollution of the cities, may feel they have found paradise in rural America, but the dangers of paradise are real and likely to grow worse.   Sending toddlers off to be with grandma and grandpa down on their little piece of tranquility during the summer months may no longer be so good.

The intent of a pesticide is to destroy the specific agricultural pests, without causing harm to the general animal population, which includes fish and bees.  Of course, the agricultural pesticide must also be safe for the human population, which includes people who live near farms and farm workers.

There was strong evidence that the chemical, Chloropyrifos, was  unsafe for agricultural use.  The Administrator  of the EPA, Scott Pruitt is making America great again, only if America can be considered the conglomeration of agricultural interests and agrichemical and fossil fuel companies.

I will say it again- it is a subtle threat.  People don’t know what  they are ingesting.  If a car manufacturer produces a car with faulty air bags, then consumer can sue them.  But only if they survive the accident!  But, if there is slow buildup of harmful neurotoxins as a result of the air we breath or the fish we eat, it may be decades before the full effects are discovered.    We are losing one of the most vital parts of our ecosystem,  bees, which pollinators of  plants.  Without them,  we can’t grow much- see below:

Scott Pruitt

Bees as Pollinators

Organophosphates contain neurotoxins.   The Obama administration proposed regulations on one particular pesticide,  chlorpyrifos, which is particularly harmful to children living near farms as it can effect their brain development.

Pesticides must be approved for use by the EPA.  Once approved, chemical companies invest millions of dollars to produce and market the chemicals worldwide. If there are health risks discovered after approval,  then the chemical companies have the option of withdrawing the pesticide from the market, fearing they might be sued, or continue to produce the pesticide and live with the legal consequences.

Stay tuned,

Dave

Links:

NYT,  March 20, 2017:  E.P.A. Chief, Rejecting Agency’s Science, Chooses Not to Ban Insecticide