Republicans have so corrupted EPA, Americans can only save it in the voting booth

Like Donald Trump and the rest of his administration, Scott Pruitt has been caught up in so many scandals that it becomes impossible to focus on any single act of corruption. It’s difficult to focus on the damage Pruitt is doing to the environment and public health when seemingly every day there’s a new scandal related to his illegal $43,000 phone booth, or use of Safe Water Drinking Act funds to give two staffers a total of $85,000 in raises (and lying about it), or his sweetheart deal on a condo rental from a lobbyist’s wife (and lying about having met with that lobbyist), or wasting taxpayer funds on first class air travel and military jets, and a nearly $3m per year security detail, and bulletproof car seat covers, and a bulletproof desk, and so on.

Lisa Friedman@LFFriedman

Number of federal investigations into Scott Pruitt has now risen to 11. Reps. Beyer & Lieu say EPA inspector general will take up an inquiry into the $50-a-night condo rental from the wife of an energy lobbyist.

But while Pruitt’s unprecedented corruption is staggering and would have resulted in his firing long ago in any other presidential administration, the damage Pruitt is doing to public and environmental health is a far greater scandal yet. As George W. Bush’s former EPA administrator Christine Todd Whitman wrote in the scathing explanation for why TIME included Pruitt as one of its 100 most influential people this year,

If his actions continue in the same direction, during Pruitt’s term at the EPA the environment will be threatened instead of protected, and human health endangered instead of preserved, all with no long-term benefit to the economy.

Scott Pruitt is terrible at his job

Lately it’s been difficult to remember that EPA’s mission is supposed to be “to protect human health and the environment.” As Christine Todd Whitman alluded, Scott Pruitt has done everything in his power to instead endanger public and environmental health. He’s loosened a litany of regulations to allow more air and water and carbon pollution.

Last week, Pruitt implemented a new policy that makes it much more difficult for EPA to use science to create regulations that would protect public health. It’s a policy straight out of the tobacco playbook. In fact, junk science blogger Steve Milloy, who first advocated for this policy change while working for the tobacco industry before shifting to the fossil fuel industry’s payroll, called Pruitt’s announcement “one of my proudest achievements.” As Milloy told the New Yorker,

I do have a bias. I’m all for the coal industry, the fossil fuel industry. Wealth is what makes people happy, not pristine air, which you’ll never get.

Wealth over health – it’s a perfect summary of today’s GOP platform. Quite simply, considering scientific evidence in crafting regulations does not favor the tobacco or fossil fuel industries, and so they have long sought to curtail its use. In Pruitt, polluters have finally found an ally who’s willing to stifle science in order to maximize their profits.

And the day after he testified that EPA was “not at present” planning to revoke California’s ability to set its own vehicle emissions standards, EPA announced a plan to do exactly that. That will trigger a legal battle between EPA and Californiathat won’t make automakers happy, but doubtless will please the fossil fuel industry. Fortunately, legal experts think Pruitt’s plan is “legally indefensible.” That would be par for the course for Pruitt, who’s been so eager to roll back environmental protections that his plans often don’t hold up in court.

Republicans in Congress don’t care

Few Republicans in power have called for Pruitt to resign. That’s because, as Oliver Milman wrote for the Guardian, despite Pruitt’s unprecedented level of corruption, they support his “deregulation agenda.” At last week’s congressional hearing, Rep. David McKinley (R-WV) summed up the GOP stance perfectly:

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Posted by dana1981 on Monday, 30 April, 2018

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