The Environmental Protection Agency’s Scott Pruitt asked Americans in April how they feel about rolling back health and environmental safeguards. More than 468,000 people responded, a fact the EPA boss celebrated in a recent summary report to President Trump.
What he failed to mention is that people yelled “No, thanks” to his agenda by a 60-to-1 margin (based on an updated sample of the docket). Maybe he couldn’t hear us from his recently-installed soundproof booth.
But polluters and their trade associations, including the nation’s coal and oil barons, certainly have his ear. Pruitt’s report recommends regulatory rollbacks that dutifully reproduce their wish list, including:
- Weakening permitting programs designed to reduce air pollution from new power plants, oil and gas facilities, and other large emitters;
- Weakening or doing away with limits on lead, carbon monoxide, and other dangerous pollutants;
- Repealing the Clean Water Rule; and
- Dismantling the Clean Power Plan.
Each of these regulatory rollbacks endangers our air, and our water, and our health.
This isn’t the first time Pruitt has danced to the tune of big polluters. When Pruitt was the Attorney General of Oklahoma, dirty energy companies courted him with campaign dollars and helped him draft comment letters to President Obama’s EPA. The industry groups lobbied Pruitt to oppose the EPA’s smog rule, for instance—which he did as Attorney General and is still doing now.
As one member of the public put it:
“I have commented on regulations before and they were much more specific than this one … As it stands now, you seem to only be soliciting comments from ‘insiders’ who already know the regulations they want to be repealed. They are not the only stakeholders in EPA regulations.”
Pruitt may put his fingers in his ears and keep saying “la-la-la-la” when he’s outside the soundproof booth. But Americans demand to be heard.
And they will be heard—in the courts, and the court of public opinion.