CREDO Action & Alex Guillen and Andrew Restuccia / Politico & Ryan Schleeter / Greenpeace – 2017-01-07 14:12:05
ACTION ALERT: Sign the Petition: Don’t Let a Climate Denier Run the EPA
“Don’t allow a climate change denier to run the Environmental Protection Agency. Do everything in your power to block Scott Pruitt’s confirmation as EPA Administrator.”
(January 7, 2017) — Scott Pruitt, Donald Trump’s nominee for Environmental Protection Agency administrator, is literally one of the last people on Earth who should be put in charge of protecting the environment.
He’s a radical climate-change denier who has repeatedly sued the EPA to block the Obama administration’s life-saving clear air and climate rules.
Pruitt’s confirmation hearings are expected to start any day now. We need to make sure Senate Democrats stand together and stand strong to stop a climate change denier with deep ties to the fossil fuel industry from taking over the Environmental Protection Agency.
Confirming Pruitt as EPA Administrator would be a nightmare scenario for the people and the planet. Throughout his six years as Oklahoma attorney general Pruitt has repeatedly used his role to do the bidding of Big Oil and other major polluters.
Here are just a few of the reasons Pruitt is unqualified to run the EPA:
Pruitt sued the EPA to block environmental rules:
Pruitt has repeatedly sued the Environmental Protection Agency to stop environmental regulations that are at the core of the EPA’s mission from taking effect, including rules to slash carbon pollution from power plants, protect children from toxic mercury pollution, reduce air pollution near our national parks and clean up America’s polluted waterways. (1)
Pruitt sent letters to the EPA on behalf of big polluters:
In 2011, just after he entered office as Oklahoma attorney general, Pruitt sent a letter to the EPA that was actually written by lawyers for Devon Energy, one of the biggest oil and gas companies in Oklahoma. In the letter, Pruitt protested EPA’s plans to study the impact of fracking — just as fracking induced earthquakes were rocking Oklahoma. (2) The letter was personally given to Pruitt by Devon’s top lobbyist, and Pruitt reportedly “copied it onto state government stationery with only a few word changes, and sent it to Washington with the attorney general’s signature.” (3)
Pruitt’s campaigns were funded by the fossil fuel industry:
Pruitt has received hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from the fossil fuel industry. In fact, his list of campaign contributors is essentially a “who’s who” of big polluters, including Koch Industries, PACs connected to Exxon Mobil, Alpha Natural Resources, the Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association, the American Gas Association, oil magnate Harold Hamm, Peabody Energy and Southern Company. (4)
In a May 2016 op-ed for National Review, Pruitt claimed that the “debate” over climate science is “far from settled.” He went on to write that “scientists continue to disagree about the degree and extent of global warming and its connection to the actions of mankind.” (5) This is a lie. (6)
Confirming Scott Pruitt as EPA administrator would likely lead to the dismantling of more than four decades of environmental and public health protections. Given the urgent need to reduce fossil fuel emissions and slow climate change before we reach a dangerous tipping point, Trump’s appointment of Pruitt to run the EPA represents an existential threat to people and the planet. (7) Senate Democrats must stand strong and do everything in their power to stop Pruitt from being confirmed.
ACTION: Tell Senate Democrats: Don’t let a climate denier run the EPA. Block Scott Pruitt’s confirmation. Click the link below to sign the petition:
Josh Nelson is Deputy Political Director of CREDO Action from Working Assets
1 Chris Mooney, Brady Dennis and Steven Mufson, “Trump names Scott Pruitt, Oklahoma attorney general suing EPA on climate change, to head the EPA,” The Washington Post, Dec. 8, 2016.
2 Ziva Branstetter, “Pruitt lobbies EPA for Devon,” Tulsa World, Dec. 9, 2016.
3 Eric Lipton, “Energy Firms in Secretive Alliance With Attorneys General,” The New York Times, Dec. 6, 2014.
4 Alex Guillen and Andrew Restuccia, “Trump picks oil ally Pruitt to head EPA,” POLITICO, Dec. 7, 2016.
5 Ryan Schleeter, “3 Things Scott Pruitt Has Actually Said About Climate Change,” Greenpeace, Dec. 7, 2016.
6 “Scientific consensus: Earth’s climate is warming,” NASA.
David Roberts, “The brutal logic of climate change,” Grist, Dec. 6, 2011.
Trump Picks Oil Ally Pruitt to Head EPA
Alex Guillen and Andrew Restuccia / Politico
(December 7, 2016) — President-elect Donald Trump picked Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to run the EPA, putting one of the agency’s most hostile critics and a skeptic of climate change science at its helm, sources close to the transition said Wednesday.
As attorney general for a state that is one of the nation’s biggest oil, natural gas and grain producers, Pruitt has been at the forefront of lawsuits challenging EPA regulations on carbon emissions and water pollution, and he is expected to lead the effort to erase much of President Barack Obama’s environmental agenda. Pruitt has also faced accusations that he’s unusually close to energy producers, including a 2014 New York Times story reporting that he and other Republican attorneys general had formed an “unprecedented, secretive alliance” with the industry.
But his agenda would mesh well with Trump, who unloaded on Obama’s EPA during the campaign, calling it a “disgrace” that was strangling the economy. Trump promised to reduce the agency to “tidbits.”
“We’ll be fine with the environment,” Trump told Fox News last year. “We can leave a little bit, but you can’t destroy businesses.”
The news of the expected nomination drew sharp criticism from green groups and environmental advocates in Congress, including former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, who said he would oppose the “sad and dangerous” move.
“Mr. Pruitt’s record is not only that of being a climate change denier, but also someone who has worked closely with the fossil fuel industry to make this country more dependent, not less, on fossil fuels,” the Vermont senator said in a statement. “The American people must demand leaders who are willing to transform our energy system away from fossil fuels.”
Hawaii Sen. Brian Schatz also said he would fight Pruitt’s nomination. “The health of our planet and our people is too important to leave in the hands of someone who does not believe in scientific facts or the basic mission of the EPA,” he said in a statement.
Dan Pfeiffer, a former top Obama adviser put it more succinctly, tweeting, “At the risk of being dramatic. Scott Pruitt at EPA is an existential threat to the planet.”
Earlier this week, Trump raised eyebrows by meeting at Trump Tower with climate advocate and former Vice President Al Gore, who told reporters the two had a conversation that was a “sincere search for areas of common ground.” Gore had been expected to only meet with Ivanka Trump.
But that meeting apparently had little effect on the president-elect, whose choice of Pruitt was welcomed by conservatives from his home state, including leading Senate climate change critic Jim Inhofe, as well as the coal industry advocates at the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, which said Pruitt would be an advocate for good environmental polices “as well as mindful of the need for affordable and reliable electricity.”
Pruitt has professed skepticism about climate change science, and his selection marks a major turning point for EPA, which even under Republican administrations stretching back to the 1980s has been led by administrators who accepted the scientific evidence that human activity was warming the planet. Pruitt has questioned just how much temperatures have risen, and has been skeptical that man-made greenhouse gas pollution has had an impact.
“Scientists continue to disagree about the degree and extent of global warming and its connection to the actions of mankind,” Pruitt wrote in an op-ed in May with Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange.
The vast majority of mainstream scientists agree that human activity is boosting global temperatures and lifting sea levels, and they have called for a rapid cut in carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels to avoid the most catastrophic impacts.
Pruitt joined a coalition of states and other challengers in a failed attempt to kill EPA’s 2009 scientific declaration that climate change poses a threat to public health and welfare. That EPA “endangerment finding” is the basis for many of the agency’s subsequent greenhouse gas rules and is likely to come under new attack under Trump. Those include a suite of EPA regulations on power plants, known as the Clean Power Plan, which are expected to receive a judgment from the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals in the coming weeks.
Pruitt has been supported by Trump’s energy adviser Harold Hamm, the head of Continental Resources, one of the nation’s biggest oil producers.
But his support for the oil and gas industry has also drawn scrutiny from sources like the Times. In 2014, for example, the newspaper reported that a letter Pruitt had sent to EPA three years earlier was actually written “almost entirely” by Oklahoma-based oil and gas producer Devon Energy.
Pruitt later told local media that his alliance with energy companies isn’t so secretive.
“It should come as no surprise that I am working diligently with Oklahoma energy companies, the people of Oklahoma and the majority of attorneys general to fight the unlawful overreach of the EPA and other federal agencies,” he said.
Pruitt has also been a leading critic and challenger of the Obama administration’s controversial Waters of the U.S. rule, also known the Clean Water Rule, which has drawn fierce attack from energy, agricultural and development interests. Trump has cited that regulation, which increases the number of streams and wetlands protected under the Clean Water Act, as one of his top targets when he takes office.
Pruitt will now be charged with deciding how to follow through on gutting the regulation. He could let ongoing court challenges play out and hope the rule dies there, or ask the court to let the agency take the rule back — a move that could then put the Oklahoman in the driver’s seat for a new rulemaking aimed at resolving the longstanding uncertainty about the reach of the Clean Water Act.
He has also been a foe of other Obama programs, including Obamacare implementation, the White House’s transgender bathroom guidance and Interior Department protections for the lesser prairie chicken.
His LinkedIn biography boasts that he is “a leading advocate against the EPA’s activist agenda,” and says that as chairman of the Republican Attorneys General Association he “led the charge with repeated notices and subsequent lawsuits against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for their leadership’s activist agenda and refusal to follow the law.”
Pruitt’s op-ed with Strange, which asserted that scientists disagree about climate science, was written to criticize Democratic attorneys general in New York and other states who were investigating whether Exxon Mobil had quashed its internal research on climate change.
That dispute — known as “#ExxonKnew” after the Twitter hashtag — quickly escalated into a battle between Democrats looking for evidence of fraud at the oil and gas giant and Republican attorneys general who argued the Democrats were stomping on Exxon’s free speech rights. Various court battles related to that dispute are ongoing.
Pruitt has also been a critic of the Renewable Fuel Standard, the law put in place by Congress a decade ago that requires oil refiners to blend corn ethanol and other biofuels into the nation’s fuel supply. EPA implements the rule.
He argued in a 2013 Supreme Court brief that EPA ignored the risks that gasoline with more than 10 percent ethanol pose to cars’ fuel systems, as well as the mandate’s effect on food prices. The high court declined to take up that case.
Fossil fuel interests have given significant sums to Pruitt’s political campaigns.
During his 2014 reelection, in which he ran unopposed, Pruitt raised $114,000 from energy company PACs and executives, about 14 percent of his total fundraising. That included $5,000 from Devon’s PAC and $100 from William Whitsitt, the Devon executive who commended Pruitt’s Devon-penned letter to EPA as “outstanding,” according to the New York Times report.
Pruitt also garnered donations from oil magnate Hamm; PACs connected to Exxon Mobil, Koch Industries, Alliance Coal, Alpha Natural Resources, Spectra Energy, ITC Holdings, Chesapeake, ONEOK, OGE Energy and Tulsa-based oil and gas producer Unit Corp.; and executives from Continental Resources, the Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association, the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, the American Gas Association, American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers, Peabody Energy, AEP, Southern Co. and Oklahoma Gas & Electric.
Pruitt started off as a private lawyer before spending eight years in the Oklahoma Senate, where he served stints as GOP whip and assistant floor leader.
From 2003 until his election as attorney general in 2010, Pruitt was co-owner and the managing general partner of the Oklahoma City Redhawks, a minor league baseball team. Pruitt’s official biography says that during his tenure, the team “regularly rated among the league’s leaders in attendance and merchandise sales.”
He earned his bachelor degree at Georgetown College, a Christian school in Kentucky, and his law degree from the University of Tulsa.
Alex Isenstadt contributed to this report.
Three Things Scott Pruitt Has Actually
Said About Climate Change
Ryan Schleeter / Greenpeace
(December 7, 2016) — Donald Trump’s nomination of Scott Pruitt to lead the Environmental Protection Agency places people and the environment in the hands of a man who cares about neither.
Firmly eliminating any notion that he would maintain an “open mind” on climate change, President-elect Donald Trump has chosen a climate denier and fossil fuel shill for one of the top environmental positions in his administration.
Scott Pruitt, Attorney General of Oklahoma since 2011, is a favorite of the oil and gas industry and outspoken opponent of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) doing basically anything at all.
Like the rest of Trump’s disaster of an energy team, he shares the president-elect’s catastrophic views on climate change. And like Trump, he’s been quite vocal about those views:
He Claimed the Science of Climate Change Is “Far From Settled”
In an editorial in the conservative magazine National Review, Pruitt railed against President Obama’s efforts to reduce carbon emissions from U.S. power plants.
In it, Pruitt falsely claims that scientists “continue to disagree” about the science of climate change and that those who deny the science of climate change are having their right to “dissent” violated.
It is 2016 and we should not have to keep saying this, but climate change is real. Ninety-seven percent of scientists agree that human activity and reliance on fossil fuels is warming our planet. And whether you “believe” the science or not, we will all be suffering the impacts of climate change, even more so if Trump refuses to act during his presidency.
He Said That if Climate “Skeptics” Can Be Prosecuted for Fraud, So Can “Alarmists”
Let’s take a moment to translate that tweet, because what it really says has nothing to do with the rights of so-called climate “skeptics” to equal treatment under the law.
By “skeptics,” Pruitt is referring to oil companies like Exxon — under investigation for fraud in New York and Massachusetts — who executed a decades-long campaign to seed doubt about the science of climate change after their own scientists discovered the truth as early as the 1970s.
By “alarmist,” he’s referring to the millions of people worldwide — including every single world leader except his new boss — who accept the science of climate change and want to see action to prevent its worst impacts.
And by “prosecute,” he means that the oil industry and the politicians in its pocket will do everything in their power to see that companies like Exxon are not held accountable to people like you and me for their role in creating the climate crisis. In fact, that’s exactly what he’s done with the Republican Attorneys General Association, which has acted as a roadblock in the legal investigation into Exxon’s climate denial at every step of the way.
He’s Campaigned Against States Complying With Obama’s Clean Power Plan
President Obama’s Clean Power Plan was a hallmark of the president’s climate legacy, setting the first federal limit on carbon pollution from existing power plants and seeking to reduce that pollution by 30 percent over 2005 levels. Obama’s EPA estimated that it would save Americans billions of dollars in public health and climate-related costs by 2030.
Pruitt hated it so much that he sued the EPA — the agency he’ll be in charge of on January 20, 2017 — to try to block it and encouraged other states to join him.
And Behind Closed Doors, It Gets Worse
Pruitt’s public statements on climate and energy are frustrating (to say the least) for anyone who understands basic science. But it’s what he hasn’t said that’s even worse.
In 2014, Pruitt was caught in a secretive alliance with oil and gas industry insiders aimed at tearing down environmental protections. Emails obtained by the New York Times show Pruitt and other Republican attorneys general collaborating with corporations and lobbyists to file lawsuits and challenge federal regulations on everything from fracking to air pollution.
One of those fossil fuel insiders was Harold Hamm, Trump’s top energy adviser and CEO of the country’s largest fracking company. Hamm would go on to chair Pruitt’s 2013 re-election campaign. More recently he’s made news as one of the biggest proponents of the Dakota Access Pipeline; it’s his company’s fracked oil that would have flowed through the pipeline if it had been completed.
Meanwhile, Pruitt has received $318,496 in campaign contributions from the fossil fuel industry since 2002, leaving little doubt about whose interests he’ll protect as EPA head — and it’s not people or the environment.
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