In a move that will come as a surprise to nobody, Donald Trump has appointed a fossil fuel insider and climate change denier to run the Environmental Protection Agency. Trump is apparently entirely without a sense of irony, seeing no problem in appointing a man to lead an agency he is actively suing.
Scott Pruitt, the attorney general of Oklahoma, has been long beholden to the fossil fuel industry, becoming a hero of the energy oligarchs and their Republican lackeys by leading the charge against President Obama’s environmental protection rules.
He is one of the most prominent members of an “unprecedented, secretive alliance” with Republican attorneys general and energy companies that orchestrated a 28-state pushback against President Obama’s efforts to force power plants to reduce their carbon emissions. That lawsuit against the EPA is expected to be brought before the still-deadlocked Supreme Court.
He has so far failed in his attempts to repeal laws that protect the public’s health by “reducing soot and smog pollution that crosses interstate lines; protections against emissions of mercury, arsenic, acid gases and other toxic pollutants from power plants; and standards to improve air quality in national parks and wilderness areas.” But as head of the EPA, you can kiss those rules goodbye.
He’s also overseen the widespread and reckless expansion of fracking in the state of Oklahoma, dismissing scientific studies on the effects of the destructive process as “unnessessary” – and the consequences can be literally felt. In 2008, the state had two earthquakes registering a magnitude of 3.0 or higher – last year, there were nearky 900 earthquakes in Oklahoma.
Pruitt’s appointment to head the EPA is a huge win for the fossil fuel industry and the monied elites that pull the strings in the Republican Party; our public health, our national parks, and the global environment as we know it are all in clear and present danger from the greed of old white men. Far from “draining” any kind of “Washington swamp,” Trump is ordering rotting logs and putrid ichors to fill it higher.
Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.