The List: Scott Pruitt's Lies & Distortions—So Far

When EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt appears before a Senate appropriations subcommittee on Wednesday morning, it’s likely his penchant to lie about his ethical problems and mischaracterize his dangerous agenda will be front and center—again.

Credit: Photo by Gage Skidmore

When EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt appears before a Senate appropriations subcommittee on Wednesday morning, it’s likely his penchant to lie about his ethical problems and mischaracterize his dangerous agenda will be front and center—again.

Here are nearly two dozen examples where Pruitt has prevaricated and shifted blame—protecting himself and Big Polluters at our peril—to keep in mind for his testimony.

It will be a timely opportunity for senators to demand the truth from Pruitt. Because, as we all saw the last time he appeared before Congress, on April 26, Pruitt can be shameless, HERE.

Pruitt's Lies

1. “This was like an Airbnb situation."

That was Pruitt’s defense for staying in a $50-a-night condo near Capitol Hill co-owned by Vicki Hart, the wife of a prominent lobbyist, that he gave in an interview with Fox News’ Ed Henry.

Pruitt signed a lease (not done when you book lodging through Airbnb). He was billed only for the nights he was there, paying $6,100 over six months. He said this was an appropriate market rate, and EPA’s ethics office said as much in a hastily drawn up memo. Anyone who has lived in DC knows—as Ed Henry pointed out from personal experience— it isn’t.

On April 6, 2018, David Apol, acting director of the U.S. Office of Government Ethics, sent a letter to Pruitt’s agency raising three areas of concern including the condo deal. “Additional information has now come to light that calls into question whether the earlier determination that the administrator paid market value for the use he made of the apartment would still be valid,” Mr. Apol’s letter says.

2. “Mr. Hart has no clients that have business before this agency.”

In his Fox News interview, Pruitt asserted that, “Mr. Hart has no clients that have business before this agency.”

But Vicki Hart’s husband, J. Steven Hart, was the chair of lobbying firm Williams & Jensen. Its clients include oil giant ExxonMobil, Canadian pipeline firm Enbridge, and liquified natural gas exporter Cheniere Energy.

Hart has lobbied the EPA on behalf of OGE Energy, a regulated utility with coal, natural gas, and renewable power in its portfolio.

While Pruitt was staying at the condo, the EPA approved an expansion of Enbridge’s Alberta Clipper pipeline carrying oil from Canadian tar sands. The New York Times reported the company also was hit with a $61 million fine from the EPA in 2010 for an oil spill in Michigan.

On April 21, the media reported that Pruitt met with Steven Hart—at the time he was renting the room from Vicki—and former executive vice president for Smithfield Foods, who is on the board of a nonprofit that the company describes as its philanthropic arm and is also a member of the Chesapeake Bay Commission.

On August 10, 2017, Hart wrote an email to Ryan Jackson, Pruitt’s chief of staff, “I want to highlight three candidates...who were nominated by our client, Dennis Treacy, the president of the Smithfield Foundation," Hart wrote, suggesting appointments for the three to an EPA science advisory board.

Addressing the issue in Pruitt’s April 26 congressional hearing, Rep. Frank Pallone called the August email “further proof that Administrator Pruitt has consistently misled Congress and the public.”

On April 20, 2018, Steven Hart announced then that he was retiring from Williams & Jensen.

3. “The two trips I took, Ed, were all in advancement of air quality issues, environmental issues to this country.”

In his Fox interview, Pruitt said his international trips were strictly for EPA business.

Pruitt’s two international trips in 2017 included a meeting with environment ministers at the G7 environment summit in Italy and an unannounced trip to Morocco.

The trip to Morocco, where Pruitt flew first class, cost at least $100,000  not including the expenses for his full-time security detail. Pruitt insisted that this trip was well within EPA’s wheelhouse and centered on international environmental cooperation.

But the official EPA press release about the trip says the following in literally the first sentence said: “U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt attended bilateral meetings in Morocco this week where he outlined U.S. environmental priorities for updating the Environmental Work Plan under the U.S.-Morocco Free Trade Agreement and the potential benefit of liquified natural gas (LNG) imports on Morocco’s economy.”

It also came to light that after taking office in early 2017, Pruitt drafted a list of countries he wanted to visit and urged aides to find “official” reasons to make the trips. Morocco was on the list, as was Israel and Australia—two trips he canceled.

4. Staff Pay Raises.  “I found out this yesterday and I corrected the action, and we are in the process of finding out how it took place and correcting that going forward.”

In his Fox News interview with Ed Henry, Pruitt was asked if he had any knowledge of the large pay increases for key staff, which were carried out through a provision of the Safe Drinking Water Act after the White House rejected them.

“I found out this yesterday and I corrected the action, and we are in the process of finding out how it took place and correcting that going forward,” Pruitt said after attempting to duck the question several times.

The Atlantic revealed that Pruitt asked the White House to approve large raises for two close aides. When the White House declined to do so, Pruitt’s staff invoked a provision of the Safe Drinking Water Act to raise the salaries.  The provision allows the EPA to hire up to 30 people without approval from the president or Congress and is meant to bring experts into the agency to deal with critical water issues.

Pruitt has used this provision several times before to hire industry lobbyists at the EPA, so it’s not unfamiliar to him. And the law explicitly requires that administrative hires get approval from the administrator.

5. Pruitt said he was not aware of excessive raises for his political staff.

During an April 26 House hearing, Rep. Paul Tonko asked Pruitt again about excessive raises for political staff that went around White House policy. Pruitt contradicted his previous statements to Fox News about his role in authorizing pay raises.

Pruitt initially told Fox News' Ed Henry he not aware of lavish pay raises authorized for his political staff, blaming his staff for poor decision-making.

But in his April 26 hearings he admitted that he did indeed personally authorize the pay raises, proving Pruitt either lied to Congress or lied to Fox News. From the hearing:

  • REP. TONKO: Did you, Administrator, authorize Mr. Jackson to sign those documents for you?
  • PRUITT:  Congressman, those were delegated to Mr. Jackson.  And the Inspector General did reference that in his management alerts...
  • TONKO:  You did authorize him then to sign them?
  • PRUITT:  Those decisions -- that decision was made by...
  • TONKO:  Yes or no?  Did you authorize him?
  • PRUITT:  There are delegations giving that authority.
  • TONKO:  So that is a yes.
  • PRUITT:  The Inspector General recognized that, Congressman. 

Two of the aides are Sarah Greenwalt, a Pruitt adviser who previously worked as his general counsel in the Oklahoma attorney general's office, and Millan Hupp, a former "Team Pruitt Operations Director" who is now his director of scheduling and advance.

Greenwalt received a 52.8 percent raise, while Hupp received a 32.5 percent boost. Combined with previous raises approved last summer, Greenwalt's salary increased 67.6 percent over the last year, while Hupp's grew 72.3 percent. Several other top Pruitt aides received smaller raises, according to an EPA Inspector General’s report released on April 16, 2018.

6. How much human activity is changing the climate is “subject to continuing debate and dialogue.”

“Science tells us that the climate is changing, and human activity in some manner impacts that change,” Scott Pruitt said in early 2017 during his confirmation process. “The human ability to measure with precision the extent of that impact is subject to continuing debate and dialogue, as well they should be.”

That statement, the New York Times wrote, is not consistent with the scientific consensus on climate change. A 2013 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a United Nations group that reviews and summarizes climate science, found it “extremely likely” that more than half of the global warming that occurred from 1951 to 2010 was a consequence of human emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.

The Times, on April 9, 2018, published a piece by Times columnist Justin Gillis calling this “Scott Pruitt’s Civilization-Threatening Lie,” because it suggests that we don’t have to take any action to stem the worst of climate change.

7. Retaliation: “I don’t ever recall a conversation to that end.”

During Pruitt’s April 26 testimony before the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Rep. Frank Pallone said that at least five EPA employees had been reassigned, demoted or retaliated against when they raised concerns about Pruitt’s spending.

Pruitt responded; “I don’t ever recall a conversation to that end.” Pallone said, “I’ll take that as a yes.”

During the two hearings that day Pruitt repeatedly denied that he retaliated against EPA whistleblowers who raised concerns about his spending on travel, office renovations, and staff pay raises.

That prompted his former Deputy Chief of Staff to say Pruitt was “bold-faced lying.” Kevin Chmielewski—Trump supporter and political appointee working under Pruitt—told ABC News that he was “100 percent” retaliated against for raising concerns about Pruitt’s excessive spending.

He told ABC that after raising concerns about the $43,000 phone booth, a plan to rent a jet for $100,000 a month and refusing to sign off on first class travel tickets for Pruitt’s favorite staffers, Pruitt’s chief of staff, Ryan Jackson, called him into his office and told him, “the administrator wants me to fire you or put you in an office where he doesn’t have to see you.”

According to Chmielewski, Jackson said that Pruitt wanted to fire him and replace him with Millan Hupp—Pruitt’s aide from Oklahoma who received a huge raise over the White House’s opposition (which had to be rescinded).

ABC and the New York Times also reported that Pruitt’s’ security chief Nino Perrotta threatened Chmielewski, and told him to resign. While EPA claims Chmielewski resigned from his position, ABC reports his resignation form is unsigned and he was forced out a month before it was filed.

Senators Sheldon Whitehouse and Tom Carper referenced the issue to demand a congressional inquiry into his around the clock security detail.

And in his April 6, 2018 letter, David Apol, acting director of the U.S. Office of Government Ethics, noted: “If true, it is hard to imagine any action that could more effectively undermine an agency’s integrity than punishing or marginalizing employees who strive to ensure compliance with the laws and regulations that safeguard that integrity.”

8. Didn’t know about the secure booth price

When questioned on the Hill about the soundproof phone booth he had installed in his personal office, Pruitt blamed his staff for the purchase and installation of the $43,000 privacy booth. And he said he would have stopped it if he knew the cost.

“I did have a phone call that came in of a sensitive nature and I did not have access to secure communication. I gave direction to my staff to address that, and out of that came a $43,000 expenditure that I did not approve," he said. "If I'd known about it, I would have refused it."

In his ABC interview, Chmielewski called Pruitt out for lying again, saying he “knew what was going on.”

On April 16, the Washington Post  reported that the $43,000 soundproof phone booth violated spending limits, according to the Government Accountability Office.

The Post reported: “In an eight-page letter to lawmakers, GAO general counsel Thomas H. Armstrong said the agency failed to notify lawmakers that it was exceeding the $5,000 limit for agency heads to furnish, redecorate or otherwise make improvements to their offices. In addition, Armstrong wrote, the agency also violated the federal Antideficiency Act, “because EPA obligated appropriated funds in a manner specifically prohibited by law.”

9. Plans to pre-empt states on fuel economy standards, “Not at present.”

During his April 26 appearances on Capitol Hill, Pruitt was asked whether he had any plans to undermine Obama-era vehicle emissions standards or the legal authority that allows states to set more protective clean cars standards. Pruitt replied, “Not at present.”

But the very next day, the New York Times, and others, revealed that the Trump administration had drafted regulations to do exactly that. It also set up a fight with California, which has sought a waiver from EPA so it can enact more stringent fuel economy requirements for cars and light trucks sold in the state.

California Reps. Doris Matsui and Paul Tonko sent Pruitt a letter on April 30 calling him out for misleading Congress by not disclosing that EPA and the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration were preparing a proposal to revoke California’s waiver authority needed to set its own stricter standards.

“If true, these reports directly contradict your testimony last week,” the lawmakers wrote. “As you were reminded at the start of that hearing, it is a violation of the law to knowingly make false statements to a Congressional committee.”

On  May 1, an angry Gov. Jerry Brown announced that California and 16 other states were suing the Trump administration to block efforts to roll back the national fuel economy standards.

10. Transparency on science? Really, it's about censoring science.

On April 24, EPA announced that Pruitt was proposing a rule "to strengthen the science used in regulations issued by EPA."

In the EPA news release, Pruitt said, “The ability to test, authenticate, and reproduce scientific findings is vital for the integrity of rulemaking process. Americans deserve to assess the legitimacy of the science underpinning EPA decisions that may impact their lives.”

But scientists immediately denounced the move saying it would keep EPA from considering health studies if the underlying data had not been made public or been independently reproduced.  The Washington Post reported it would block research such as, "Harvard’s Six Cities Study of 1993. It showed a dramatic association between long-term exposure to air pollution and higher risk of an early death. It influenced government pollution standards that research shows have saved thousands of lives.

NRDC's Jennifer Sass explains this is Pruitt's "sly plan to censor science," here.

11. Screening for guns, not only snow, caused Pruitt’s Paris layover for Morocco.

When members of Congress questioned why Pruitt made a costly layover in Paris on the way to Morocco last year—where he functioned as a salesman for LNG—his spokesman Jahan Wilcox blamed snow.

“Due to snow at Washington Dulles, Administrator Pruitt’s outbound flight was canceled, he missed his connection at Charles de Gaulle Airport and took the first available flight to Morocco, which was not until the next day,” Wilcox said as recently as the first of May.

But now we’ve learned the truth. It was his security details’ weapons that caused the delay, resulting in Pruitt and his staff staying at a five-star Sofitel hotel near the Arc de Triomphe.

Pruitt's former security chief Pasquale "Nino" Perrotta told the House Oversight Committee that Pruitt and his staff missed a connecting flight on the way to Morocco because his security detail's weapons and gear couldn't be transferred between the planes in time, the Associated Press reported. Read the story here.

12. Pruitt needed 24/7 security because of threats.

During his recent House testimony, Pruitt pointed to an August 2017 EPA inspector general’s document to justify his 24/7 security detail.

But on May 14, 2018, the EPA inspector general disclosed that Pruitt’s security protection, which has cost more than $3 million, began from his first day in office, according to the Washington Post and others.

“EPA’s Protective Service Detail began providing 24/7 coverage of the Administrator the first day he arrived,” Inspector General Arthur Elkins wrote to senators asking about what threats prompted Pruitt’s nonstop security. “The decision was made by the Office of Criminal Enforcement, Forensics and Training after being informed that Mr. Pruitt requested 24/7 protection once he was confirmed as Administrator.”

Pruitt also may have stretched the truth when he said he needed 24/7 security because of threats against him.

On April 10 this year, the Washington Post revealed a February 14, 2018 memo in which the EPA’s Office of Homeland Security Intelligence Team criticized Pruitt’s justification for flying first class out of concern for his safety, saying it “DOES NOT employ sound analysis.” It continued with the use of bold type stating that “[u]sing all source intelligence resources, EPA Intelligence has not identified any specific credible direct threat to the EPA Administrator.”

Pruitt's Distortions

1. Pruitt: The Clean Power Plan pushed the bounds of EPA’s authority.

“The Obama administration pushed the bounds of their authority so far with the CPP that the Supreme Court issued a historic stay of the rule, preventing its devastating effects to be imposed on the American people while the rule is being challenged in court,” said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt.

First, the Supreme Court did not rule on the merits of the Clean Power Plan. Voting 5-4, it only put the CPP on hold pending resolution of the state and industry challenge to the rule before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

Second, in Massachusetts. V. EPA, the Supreme Court ruled in 2007 that EPA has the authority to regulate carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act.

Also, in 2011 the Court unanimously decided, in American Electric Power v. Connecticut, that EPA can curb carbon pollution from existing power plants under Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act, the very provision the agency has used to establish the Clean Power Plan. In a third climate change case in 2014, Utility Air Regulatory Group v. EPA, Justice Kennedy and Chief Justice Roberts voted to uphold the most important portions of EPA's permitting regulations for large new sources of carbon pollution. More here.

2. Pruitt: issues directive against “Sue & Settle”

“The days of regulation through litigation are over,” said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt in October 2017.  “We will no longer go behind closed doors and use consent decrees and settlement agreements to resolve lawsuits filed against the Agency by special interest groups where doing so would circumvent the regulatory process set forth by Congress.”

But, Congress requires the EPA to protect Americans, backed by legal deadlines. So, when EPA violates the law by missing deadlines, citizens have the right to hold EPA accountable. This is a right enjoyed by states, industry and individual Americans, says John Walke, clean air director at NRDC.

“Pruitt’s doing nothing more than posturing about a nonexistent problem and political fiction,” said Walke. “His targeting of legal settlements, especially where EPA has no defense to breaking the law, will just allow violations to persist, along with harms to Americans.”

In the end, the Trump EPA’s goal is to allow corporations to break the law, leading to dirtier air, dirtier water, and sicker people.”

3. Pruitt: U.S. Exits Paris climate agreement because “it’s a bad deal for this country.”

“When we joined Paris, the rest of the world applauded … because it put this country at disadvantage,” Pruitt told Fox News’s Chris Wallace in June 2017. “It’s a bad deal for this country. We’re going to make sure as we make deals we’re going to put the interests of America first.”

The opposite is true. In December 2015, 195 countries agreed to the first global pact to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, a landmark diplomatic achievement, led by the United States, according to the New York Times, which prepared a “what you need to know” guide on the agreement.

China and India, two economic competitors of the U.S., committed under the Paris agreement to reduce coal use and ramp up clean energy in the coming years.

Corporate America overwhelmingly supported staying in the agreement. "Climate change is real," Jeff Immelt, CEO of General Electric (GE), said in a tweet after the president's announcement in early June 2017 announcing pullout. "Industry must now lead and not depend on government." 

The hundreds of big companies that backed staying with the Paris accord run the full range of business sectors. They included retailers like Walmart (WMT), tech giants such as Apple (AAPL), automakers like General Motors (GM) and even the leading lights of the fossil fuel industry, notably Exxon Mobil (XOM).

Cities, states and the public also strongly supported the global plan to curb climate change. About seven out of 10 registered voters, or 69 percent, said that the U.S. should participate in the Paris agreement, compared with 13 percent who say that the country should not, according to a November 2016 poll by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication.

4. Pruitt: carbon dioxide emissions are not the “primary contributor” to climate change.

Pruitt said on March 11, 2017  that he did not believe that the release of carbon dioxide from power plants, industrial facilities and vehicles mainly, was pushing global temperatures upwards.

“I think that measuring with precision human activity on the climate is something very challenging to do and there’s tremendous disagreement about the degree of impact, so no, I would not agree that it’s a primary contributor to the global warming that we see,” Pruitt told CNBC.

“But we don’t know that yet ... We need to continue the debate and continue the review and the analysis.”

This stance puts Pruitt at odds with the agency he ostensibly runs, which states on its website that carbon dioxide is the “primary greenhouse gas that is contributing to recent climate change.” This finding is backed by NASA, which calls carbon emissions “the most important long-lived ‘forcing’ of climate change.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report from 2014, which summarized the findings of 2,000 international scientists, states it is “extremely likely” that the steep rise in carbon emissions, along with other greenhouse gases such as methane, has caused most of the global warming experienced since the 1950s.

Scientists immediately criticized Pruitt's statement, saying it ignores a large body of evidence collected over decades that shows fossil fuel burning as the main factor in climate change.

"We can’t afford to reject this clear and compelling scientific evidence when we make public policy. Embracing ignorance is not an option," Ben Santer, climate researcher at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, said in a statement.

5. Pruitt: “The era of secret science is coming to an end.”

“The era of secret science at EPA is coming to an end,” Pruitt announced on April 24, 2018. “The ability to test, authenticate, and reproduce scientific findings is vital for the integrity of rulemaking process. Americans deserve to assess the legitimacy of the science underpinning EPA decisions that may impact their lives.”

In fact, he’s launching the era of censoring science.

The EPA already makes available the scientific studies it relies on to make decisions. But sometimes those studies use private medical data that can’t and shouldn’t be made public—Pruitt and his staff know that. They just want an excuse to throw out these public health studies so they can weaken public health protections. His move ignores longstanding practices to protect patient information, intellectual property and industrial secrets.

“Administrator Pruitt is very clearly trying to exclude and ignore longstanding pollution and medical science that is peer-reviewed, embraced by the National Academy of Sciences among others, and also based on health data that people were promised would be kept confidential,” said John Walke, the clean air director of the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Walke sent a detailed letter to a House committee outlining the many flaws of trying to block credible science from being considered in drafting federal health and safety protections.

6. Pruitt: “We’re not going to choose any longer between the environment and job growth.”

“The past administration said we had to choose between the environment and job growth,” Pruitt said to miners in 2017. “This administration says the opposite.”

That’s not even remotely true for the Obama administration, or, for that matter, for any administration, Republican or Democratic, stretching back to the dawn of the EPA nearly 50 years ago.

Between 2009 and 2016, while the Obama administration strengthened safeguards to protect our environment and health, the U.S. economy grew an inflation-adjusted 16 percent and added 11.3 million jobs in the longest unbroken stretch of job growth in U.S. history, NRDC president Rhea Suh wrote in November 2017.

As President Richard Nixon stressed to critics when he established the EPA in 1970, not only could the nation afford to protect the environment but that, indeed, it couldn’t afford not to do so. Since then, the U.S. economy has nearly tripled in size, growing 264 percent, while cutting dangerous pollution and energy waste dramatically.

7. Pruitt: Newly on the job he set a “back-to-basics” agenda for the agency.

In media interviews, he refers to himself as an “EPA originalist.”

But Pruitt supported Trump budget proposals to slash EPA’s budget 31 percent in 2018 and 24 percent in 2019, which would decimate its ability to fulfill its mission to protect Americans’ health and our environment.

As administrator, he’s moved to weaken numerous air, water, health and toxic chemical safeguards, and give a green light to polluters to go ahead and pollute more, chronicled in Politico and elsewhere.

That’s not back to basics, that’s just backing off on protecting the American people.

8. Pruitt: “Red Team, Blue team” debate among scientists needed on climate change science.

In June 2017, Pruitt—a committed skeptic about the well-established role human activity plays in global warming—called for a “red team, blue team” exercise where scientists of opposing views would debate the cause of the recent rise in global temperatures and climate change.

Pruitt stated, “What the American people deserve, I think, is a true, legitimate, peer-reviewed, objective, transparent discussion about CO2 [carbon dioxide].”

The problem is that scientists have spent nearly two centuries documenting changes in our climate and man’s increasing role—through burning fossil fuels—in the dramatic rise in carbon pollution encircling and warming the Earth.

White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly killed the idea as it as ill-conceived and politically risky.

And internal EPA emails obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request by NRDC shows that Pruitt turned to climate skeptics to craft the red team-blue team exercise.

“[T]he ‘Red Team’ idea is superb,” Rodney Nichols, a science and technology policy consultant for the CO2 Coalition, wrote in a May 2017 email to Pruitt aide Lincoln Ferguson. “We will be glad to help the initiative in any way we can.”

Another email message shows that career staff at the agency’s main scientific research arm, the Office of Research and Development (ORD), were not in on its development.

“The red team blue team exercise is not an ORD effort, and we are not involved,” Samantha Linkins, an ORD staffer, wrote to other EPA staffers. “The Administrator is the one who wants to do this and I’m guessing his folks are putting it together.”

The bottom line?

“Scientists at the EPA who know something about climate science want nothing to do with the Red team, Blue team exercise,” NRDC spokesman Ed Chen said in a statement regarding the released emails. “But a host of outsiders, non-scientists and know-nothings want everything to do with it.”

9. Pruitt: I’m suspending Clean Water Rule to curb confusion and give “certainty to America’s farmers and ranchers.”

“Today, E.P.A. is taking action to reduce confusion and provide certainty to America’s farmers and ranchers,” Mr. Pruitt said in a Jan. 31, 2018 statement. “The 2015 WOTUS rule developed by the Obama administration will not be applicable for the next two years, while we work through the process of providing long-term regulatory certainty across all 50 states about what waters are subject to federal regulation.”

The action sows more confusion, in part because it’s a two-year suspension and will cause Americans to wonder whether the river or stream they like to swim or fish in is safe. Pruitt routinely lies about what the rule requires, specifically claiming that it applies to “puddles” even though they are explicitly exempt.

“The Clean Water Rule protects the bodies of water that feed the drinking water supply for one in three Americans,” said Jon Devine, a senior attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council. “E.P.A. Administrator Scott Pruitt is racing the clock to deny protections for our public health and safety. It’s grossly irresponsible, and illegal—and we’ll challenge it in court.”

10. Pruitt: Obama got CO2 vehicle emissions standards all wrong.

Pruitt announced on April 2, 2018 that he would repeal Obama-era standards requiring cars and light trucks to average more than 50 miles per gallon by 2025. Ending the carbon limits on cars and SUVs—which came from an agreement by the government, automakers and the state of California—handed some automakers a big win.

“The Obama Administration's determination was wrong,” Pruitt said in an April 2, 2018 EPA press release. “Obama’s EPA cut the Midterm Evaluation process short with politically charged expediency, made assumptions about the standards that didn’t comport with reality, and set the standards too high.”

Pruitt distorted the truth in that statement, and didn’t mention the health benefits he was canceling, and health protections are the key mission of the EPA.

Mary Nichols, head of the California Air Resources Board, argued that Pruitt’s move would “demolish” the shift toward cleaner cars and that “EPA’s action, if implemented, will worsen people’s health with degraded air quality and undermine regulatory certainty for automakers.”

11. Pruitt: EPA embraces cooperative federalism to work collaboratively with states and others to protect health and the environment (except California)

"Cooperative federalism is essential to properly protecting the environment. States play an enormous role, and we will work with them as partners, not adversaries, to solve the environmental challenges we face today." – Pruitt says on EPA’s website.

But that maxim doesn’t apply when states wants to protect their citizens more than Pruitt does. When Pruitt announced on April 2, 2018 that he was rolling back Obama-era vehicle emissions standards because they were too tough, 16 states and the District of Columbia announced they would sue because the rollback put their citizens’ health at risk from the increased emissions from burning more gasoline.

“This phalanx of states will defend the nation’s clean car standards to boost gas mileage and curb toxic air pollution,” California Gov. Jerry Brown said.

Further, California has set a higher bar for vehicle emissions, which Pruitt complained about, saying, “Cooperative federalism doesn’t mean that one state can dictate standards for the rest of the country.”

So much for 10th Amendment states’ rights Republicans love to champion.


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