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.
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.
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.
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.