Tuesday, October 24, 2017

It Could Change With Time, But Trump's Worst Appointment So Far Is Scott Pruitt


A lot of Republicans, when they work up the nerve to criticize Señor Trumpanzee, try to couch the criticism in a paean to the greatness of his judiciary and cabinet picks. First of all, he doesn't care how criticism is couched; he'll be looking for an opportunity at revenge sooner or later-- and it won't be pretty-- and, second, his personnel selections are among his worst and most existentially risky decisions, not his saving grace. Remember this? It's clear to anyone who isn't a deranged Republican that Trump can always be counted on to hire the worst people, as we saw last week when we looked at his horrendous appellate court selections. But, as horrible as Betsy DeVos has been and as putrid as John Kelly has turned out to be, I'm still convinced that Trump's very worst appointment was Scott Pruitt, the EPA Administrator. In fact, Pruitt-- who just hired more bodyguards so that his goon squad is now 30-- may well be the worst presidential appointment in contemporary history... but just for the country.

Yesterday, the NY Times editors, who have bashed Pruitt mercilessly, ran a column of letters by readers under the title The E.P.A. vs the Environment... just to allow some other voices on the matter. Leila Hadj-Chikh of Baltimore wrote that "History may be written by the victors, but thankfully science is not so subjective. However hard Scott Pruitt, the E.P.A. administrator, tries to censor his own scientists, he cannot alter the laws of physics. Nor can he magic away climate change by removing it from his agency’s website. Nevertheless, it’s clear we can no longer expect the E.P.A. to provide rational answers to our climate problem. The task now falls to Congress, and the logical solution is to ensure that fossil fuel prices accurately reflect their cost to society. By placing a fee on carbon pollution and returning the revenue to households, we can recoup the economic damages of climate change while weaning ourselves off the fossil fuels that drive it. In passing such legislation, Congress would be on the right side of history, as well as science." Barry Lurie from Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania, is no fan of Pruitt either. "With all of the turmoil in the Trump administration," he wrote, "it is easy to overlook how efficient and effective Scott Pruitt has been at dismantling the Environmental Protection Agency. Industry insiders are shaping policy. Coal is back as a primary energy source. The proposed budget for the E.P.A. would mark a 40-year low, adjusted for inflation. The objective seems to be returning to the environment of my youth. Polluted streams and rivers where nothing could live, lakes so polluted that they caught fire, air thick with smog, acid rain, toxic waste dumps and carcinogenic building materials. If you think Mr. Pruitt is on the right track, please write and tell him so. However, if you have a different vision of the world for your children and grandchildren, please at least tell your members of Congress. And don’t wait too long."

Back in April, Chris Mooney and Juliet Eilperin, writing for the Washington Post, reported that Trump's EPA was moving to dismantle programs that protect kids from lead paint. Pruitt-- and Trump and the GOP-- immediately looked to roll back 2 programs aimed at reducing lead risks by cutting $16.61 million and more than 70 employees. "Lead is a potent neurotoxin, and particularly harmful to children and the elderly. Its dangers in gasoline, paint and drinking water have been scientifically documented over many decades, which has led to stronger regulatory protections. In a 2014 report, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 243,000 children had blood lead levels above the danger threshold-- and that permanent neurological damage and behavior disorders had been associated at even lower levels of lead exposure."

And a few months later it was Lisa Friedman and Brad Plummer at the Times writing about Pruitt's-- and presumably Trump's-- decision to repeal Obama’s signature policy to curb greenhouse gas emissions from power plants.
Describing the Obama-era regulation as the “so-called Clean Power Plan,” the E.P.A. statement said that repealing the measure “will also facilitate the development of U.S. energy resources and reduce unnecessary regulatory burdens associated with the development of those resources.”

The repeal proposal, which will be filed in the Federal Register on Tuesday, fulfills a promise President Trump made to eradicate his predecessor’s environmental legacy. Eliminating the Clean Power Plan makes it less likely that the United States can fulfill its promise as part of the Paris climate agreement to ratchet down emissions that are warming the planet and contributing to heat waves and sea-level rise. Mr. Trump has vowed to abandon that international accord.

It also is a personal triumph for Mr. Pruitt, who as Oklahoma attorney general helped lead more than two dozen states in challenging the rule in the courts. In announcing the repeal, Mr. Pruitt made many of the same arguments that he had made for years to Congress and in lawsuits: that the Obama administration exceeded its legal authority in an effort to limit greenhouse gas emissions from power plants. (Last year, the Supreme Court blocked the rule from taking effect while courts assessed those lawsuits.) A leaked draft of the repeal proposal asserts that the country would save $33 billion by not complying with the regulation and rejects the health benefits the Obama administration had calculated from the original rule.

Coal- and natural-gas-fired power plants are responsible for about one-third of America’s carbon dioxide emissions. When the Clean Power Plan was unveiled in 2015, it was expected to cut power sector emissions 32 percent by 2030, relative to 2005. While many states are already shifting away from coal power for economic reasons, experts say scrapping the rule could slow that transition.

Environmental groups and several states plan to challenge the repeal proposal in federal courts, arguing against Mr. Pruitt’s move on both scientific and economic grounds.

Yesterday, Newsweek's Joseph Frankel reported on why Pruitt and the EPA have been accused of scientific censorship. He wrote that "the LinkedIn profile of Scott Pruitt, the current director of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), continues to describe him as “a leading advocate against the EPA’s activist agenda." Pruitt's latest shenanigan was to bare 3 EPA scientists from speaking at a conference on climate change at the Narragansett Bay in Rhode Island.
The Narragansett Bay is the biggest estuary in New England. It is also the site of a three-year environmental research program, the results of which are being presented at this conference.

...The program has received grant funding from the EPA, and EPA scientists-- including ecologist Autumn Oczkowski, the originally intended keynote speaker-- participated in that program’s research.

“Narragansett Bay is one of Rhode Island’s most important economic assets, and the EPA won’t let its scientists talk with local leaders to plan for its future. Whatever you think about climate change, this kind of collaboration should be a no-brainer,” the Democratic Senator Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island told the Washington Post.

“It’s definitely a blatant example of the scientific censorship we all suspected was going to start being enforced at EPA,” John King, an oceanographer who works on the Narragansett Bay Estuary Program, told New York Magazine. “They don’t believe in climate change, so I think what they’re trying to do is stifle discussions of the impacts of climate change.”
Derrick Crowe is running for the Austin-San Antonio corridor seat occupied with the Climate Change denying chair of the House Science Committee, Lamar Smith. Earlier this morning, Derrick told us that "Smith's total silence over Scott Pruitt's appointment and behavior shows his blatant hypocrisy. Smith has harangued the EPA under Obama for supposed secrecy when crafting regulations and undertaking science, but has said not a thing as Pruitt wastes taxpayer dollars literally installing soundproof rooms to work in as he dismantles environmental protections. Pruitt is a dangerous authoritarian crank propped up by other dangerous authoritarian cranks."

Goal ThermometerPaul Clements is running for Congress in southwest Michigan, in a district where Fred Upton,widely considered the more dangerous enemy of the planet earth, has his lair. Paul told us that "Pruitt is Trump’s worst appointment because he is doing the most harm. It challenges the imagination-- as we move from 1 degree of warming today to 2 degrees around mid-century, and the devastation of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico and forest fires in northern California becomes routine-- as we move from 60 million refugees and internally displaced people to maybe 200 million-- as fish stocks plummet coral reefs die from ocean acidification-- the human consequences are hard to fathom. But Pruitt blocking EPA leadership in the fight against climate change, weakening the institution, supporting and encouraging carbon polluters: the effect is more carbon in the atmosphere probably for a thousand years. Well, before there was Pruitt (in the federal government) there was Upton. In 2010 when Upton became chair of the House Energy and Commerce committee he morphed into a climate science denier and became the most powerful opponent to President Obama’s climate action programs in the House. The LA Times called Upton Congress’ #1 enemy of planet earth, and indeed, if he had used his authority to work with the President and combat global warming, today America could have much more sustainable energy and the world could be way ahead of the Paris agreement. I have been a climate change activist and scholar for decades, and it was Upton’s climate science denial that sparked my interest in running against him in 2012. Clean energy and climate leadership were important planks for my campaigns in 2014 and 2016, as they are in my current race, and I have remained a leader in local climate activism. One of my classes wrote the Kalamazoo Climate Action Plan with our Kalamazoo city planner. Since Pruitt, Trump and Upton have set us back so far, Congress more than ever needs the kind of leadership I can bring."

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At 7:32 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pruitt is the logical progression of lesser evilism.

bush ratfucked the epa. obamanation was a little better, but even with his 2009 majorities he did not fund the epa such that it could do shit. the superfund was allowed to dry up. Environmental problem areas were still ID'd, but nothing could be done.

And nobody has ever done shit about climate change.

Pruitt is just a more honest head of an agency that has become archaic.


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