The Suffolk Journal

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Trump has signed a death warrant for the environment

Scott Pruitt and the pillaging of the EPA

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A member unknown compared to Exxon Mobile’s Rex Tillerson or General James “Mad Dog” Mattis, he was a politico from Oklahoma who served as the state’s attorney general. Now, he’s the most controversial member within President Donald Trump’s Cabinet and is facing ten separate investigations by six organizations for abuses of power and ethics violations.

Scott Pruitt, President Donald Trump’s pick for head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) who was confirmed is the ‘swampiest’ of Trump’s cabinet members. It’s high time Mr. Pruitt hand over his letter of resignation.

Pruitt has been unfit to lead the organization since day one. His appointment is a prime example of the sort of reign of deconstruction that Trump brought to Washington — a strategy gleefully embraced by the small-government right.

It is because of his abject failure to play the role of custodian of the agency he was tapped to lead that Scott Pruitt must resign. It would save face for all involved.”

As with many other facets of the Trump administration, Pruitt’s expertise has been called into question. Put plainly: he knows nothing about the organization which he heads. Pruitt, tasked with guiding the nation’s environmental policy, does not believe that CO2 emissions are a primary contributor to climate change, a fact that was acknowledged by the Supreme Court in 2007.

Then came the scandals. Last summer, the EPA’s office of the inspector general opened an investigation into Pruitt’s travel expenses. The New York Times reported that Pruitt spent 43 out of 92 days from March through May in Oklahoma. The investigation opened up further to include Pruitt’s trip to Morocco, which cost taxpayers $40,000. Just last week, according to The Washington Post, congressional auditors ruled that Pruitt’s procurement of a $43,000 secure phone booth violated spending laws.

Most concerning is the regulatory capture of the EPA that has occurred under Pruitt’s watch. Regulatory capture occurs in government when the very non-governmental organizations that a government organization are supposed to regulate take control of the regulatory agency, thus weakening regulations.

Pruitt has appointed beneath him members of the very industry his agency is supposed to oversee. The Senate recently confirmed Andrew Wheeler, a coal lobbyist, as deputy administrator of the EPA. Last April, he fired scientists from the agency’s Board of Scientific Counselors (BOSC), opting to replace them with industry insiders.

He’s also been accused of improprieties concerning a meeting with mining executives who he reportedly urged to pressure the president to pull out of the Paris climate agreement.

If there’s one silver lining, it’s that Pruitt and Trump seem to be failing in their quest to dismantle the EPA. To start, they’ve gotten more wasteful, not less. Despite the fact that Trump’s first budget ordered the EPA’s budget slashed by 24 percent and staffing levels cut by 20 percent, Pruitt’s twenty person team is three times as large as previous administrators, according to a separate Times article. Security spending alone has topped $3 million.

The sort of deregulation that the Trump/Pruitt team has been doing has also been ineffective, albeit alarming to the average environmentally-conscious voter. Because Pruitt has been eager to act as a Trump lapdog, he’s repealed regulations in the quickest way possible. As administrator of the EPA, Pruitt has reversed 67 environmental rules and made cuts to the agency, according to National Geographic.

Don’t let this alarm you. Quality is a function of time. Many of the repeals triggered expensive and hard-fought legal battles. Should an environmentalist take the White House in 2020, most if not all of the regulatory damage could be undone.

It is because of his abject failure to play the role of custodian of the agency he was tapped to lead that Scott Pruitt must resign. It would save face for all involved. The Trump administration would have one less blemish on its bruised face, and the nation would be spared ecological suicide-by-Pruitt.

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Trump has signed a death warrant for the environment