We, the undersigned environmental, health, labor, faith, community, business, and advocacy organizations, and elected officials, write to urge your strong, unqualified, and robust opposition to Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt’s appointment to head the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Pruitt has a record of advocating against any and all protections for our water, air and climate. Allowing him to lead the EPA would not only be a disaster for the environment, but for every person in the United States who drinks water or breathes air.
We could write a book detailing Pruitt’s anti-environmental views – he has bragged about repeatedly suing the agency he is now being asked to run – but here are a few highlights:
• As Attorney General of Oklahoma, Pruitt campaigned in support of a ballot measure that would have made it virtually impossible for the state to regulate pollution caused by factory farms – pollution which poisons surrounding communities’ air and drinking water. Fortunately, Oklahoma voters have the good sense to reject this measure.
• Pruitt is a climate denier who has said that the link between human activity and climate change is “far from settled.” He is part of an effort to shield Exxon and other energy companies from accountability over years of misleading the public about the science around climate change.
• Pruitt opposes the ability of the EPA to regulate carbon as a pollutant, something that is essential to combatting climate change.
• Pruitt has opposed the EPA’s Clean Water Rule, which strengthened regulations aimed at protecting water from runoff pollution.
• Pruitt even opposes protecting the environment around our national parks. In 2014, Pruitt unsuccessfully sued the EPA over its Regional Haze Rule, a law designed to foster cleaner air at national parks by reducing coal-fired power plant emissions.
• As earthquakes caused by fracking and waste disposal have ravaged Oklahoma, Pruitt has done nothing to protect the people of his state or hold the fossil fuel industry accountable.
• None of this should come as a surprise, given that Pruitt has accepted over $300,000 in campaign contributions from the fossil fuel industry.
As the above record indicates, Pruitt as EPA Administrator would be a disaster for the environment. But it’s worth noting that environmental harm also means human harm. When water is polluted by factory farms, it means that people living down stream get poisoned. When air is polluted by power plants and refineries, it means people living nearby get poisoned. When water systems are allowed to deteriorate and there is insufficient federal response – like in Flint, Michigan – it means people get poisoned. When fossil fuel companies are allowed to drill and dispose of waste with impunity causing earthquakes, it means people’s homes are damaged and working people have to pay more for insurance. And when climate change is denied and allowed to accelerate, it means more superstorms, which means significant property damage and possible loss of life for people living in coastal areas.
The environment should not be a partisan issue, and someone with Scott Pruitt’s record should not be allowed anywhere near the EPA, let alone put in a position to lead it. We urge you to not only vote against Pruitt’s nomination, but actively use all the power of your office and position to block it. We urge you to lobby your colleagues on both sides of the aisle to oppose his nomination, to speak out in the media highlighting his egregious environmental track record, and use all procedural means at your disposal to block Scott Pruitt from becoming EPA Administrator.