This week is D-Day for whether the Senate will confirm Trump’s choice of Scott Pruitt to run the EPA. So far, one Republican has broken ranks to say she would vote no. Susan Collins of Maine issued a statement yesterday that she has “significant concerns that Mr. Pruitt has actively opposed and sued the EPA on numerous issues that are of great importance….including mercury controls for coal-fired power plants and efforts to reduce cross-state air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. His actions leave me with considerable doubts about whether his vision for the EPA is consistent with the agency’s critical mission to protect human health and the environment.”
That’s for sure. If he makes it in, Trump is said to be planning to attend Pruitt’s swearing-in at the agency’s headquarters. Inside EPA has reported that Trump plans to sign more executive orders that could “suck the air out of the room.” One of these may concern America’s continued participation in the Paris climate agreement (see my last blog).
Pruitt, in his written responses to questions from the Senate committee, claimed several alt-facts with no basis in reality. He said he was “aware of a diverse range of conclusions regarding global temperatures, including that over the past two decades satellite data indicates there has been a leveling off of warming, which some scientists refer to as the ‘hiatus.'” B-S. Two independent scientific studies prove that “hiatus” never existed, and the so-called satellite data has been debunked.
But Pruitt has another scapegoat. It’s really about “expansive urbanization within our country where artificial substances such as asphalt can interfere with the accuracy of land-based temperature stations.” Wrong again, Scott. The impact of these “heat islands” has been proven to be minimal at best.
As for the recent announcement that 2016 was the hottest year ever recorded, Pruitt alleges that different agencies across the globe calculate the temperatures differently. NASA, NOAA, and Great Britain all say otherwise.
Meantime, Inside EPA.also reported this week that Trump is thinking about shutting down the agency’s enforcement division and shunting it off into the individual program offices monitoring air and water quality, etc. Right now, the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance is an independent body with some 3,000 employees working “to advance environmental justice by protecting communities most vulnerable to pollution.”
Of course, Pruitt would undoubtedly applaud Trump’s move, since he did pretty much the same thing as Oklahoma Attorney General when he closed his office’s Environmental Protection Unit soon after being elected in 2011. In its place, according to Pruitt’s online biography, he “established Oklahoma’s first federalism unit to combat unwarranted regulation and overreach by the federal government.”
Speaking of Oklahoma, Governor Mary Fallin just released her budget proposal, proposing to establish the highest tax on wind power in the country. Fossil fuel honchos in the state like fracking king Harold Hamm, the biggest financial backer of Pruitt’s two runs for Attorney General, have a coalition that’s also been lobbying to end wind tax credits there.
With the confirmation vote looming, this is our last chance to urge our senators to block Pruitt. Here is a message from Greenpeace with a number to call and instructions:
|If you’ve never called your senator before, don’t worry. It’s easy! There’s a script and a toll-free number ready for you. It will only take a couple of minutes, but it will make a big difference.
Step 1: Dial 877-969-2590.
Step 2: Before you are connected with your senate office, you will hear a message from me with some brief talking points.
Step 3: After the message ends, you will be transferred to one of your senators’ offices. You may be put on hold, but don’t hang up! Your message couldn’t be more important.
In case you want to practice ahead of time, here are the talking points written out: